- The Washington Times - Friday, July 20, 2018

Nearly 4 million people would gain health coverage in 2019 and premiums would drop by an average of 12 percent if every state imposed its own version of Obamacare’s “individual mandate” to hold insurance, a research foundation said Friday.

The Commonwealth Fund said average rate decreases would vary by state, from 4 percent in Alaska to 20 percent in New Mexico, depending on the share of healthy people who’d be prodded into the markets by a mandate requiring people to get covered or pay a tax penalty.

The GOP’s tax-cut bill zeroed out penalties tied to Obamacare’s federal mandate, starting in 2019, though New Jersey reinstated the penalty through their state tax system. Massachusetts already had its own mandate.

However, the remaining states haven’t backfilled the penalty, which was the most unpopular part of the Affordable Act Act and remains politically toxic.

Blue states like Maryland, Connecticut and Hawaii have discussed adding a state-level mandate, yet haven’t acted. City officials in D.C. plan to impose one locally, though House Republicans are trying to flex their oversight powers and block it through legislative “riders.”

Commonwealth researchers said 3.9 million fewer people would be uninsured in 2019 if every state had a mandate, a number that rises to 7.5 million in 2022.

The study estimates that next year, the mandates would prod than 400,000 people into employer-based coverage, more than 600,000 into Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, 1.2 million into Obamacare coverage with the help of federal subsidies and 1.7 million into individual-market coverage that isn’t subsidized.

Montana, West Virginia, North Dakota, and Kentucky would see the biggest gains, percentage-wise, with the share of people going uninsured dropping by 20 percent in each.

Federal spending would tend to rise with more people taking up taxpayer-subsidized coverage. However, Commonwealth estimates that in 21 states, spending would actually decrease because the average subsidy would decrease with premiums.

Federal spending would drop by $356 million California and $690 million in Florida, for instance. On the other hand, it would rise $92 million Louisiana $396 million in Texas, according to Commonwealth.

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