Although Congress did not repeal the Affordable Care Act this summer like many Republicans had hope for, lawmakers are making a push to repeal the individual mandate of Obamacare, which forces individuals without health insurance to pay high penalty fees.
“The plan is separate from Republican efforts to repeal the health care law, and appears more likely to be adopted because it would be written into the annual spending bill for the Treasury and the I.R.S., writes the New York Times. “But it has a similar purpose: to weaken the health law that President Trump and Republicans in Congress want to dismantle.”
If the bill with a much more conservative budget for the I.R.S. passes, the mandate would stop being enforced.
“None of the funds made available by this act may be used by the Internal Revenue Service to implement or enforce section 5000A of the Internal Revenue Code,” states the bill. Section 5000A imposes the penalty on individuals without insurance.
This is part of a temporary solution to lessen the burden on those suffering from high ACA expenses.
“While Congress works to pass President [Donald] Trump’s healthcare plan, stopping the IRS from implementing the harmful individual mandate helps provide relief for the families suffering under Obamacare,” said Garrett Hawkins, a spokesman for Tom Graves, the House Committee on Appropriations chairman to the New York Times.
Under the ACA, penalty fees gradually were getting larger.
“The penalty for failing to maintain coverage is either a flat dollar amount or a specified percentage of household income, whichever is greater. For an individual with annual income of $40,000 and no coverage during the year, the penalty would be $741, according to a calculator on the I.R.S. website. For a couple with annual income of $90,000 and no insurance, the penalty would be $1,732,” writes the New York Times.
The I.R.S. collected $3 billion in penalties from 6.5 million people in 2015.
This punishment was put in place to motivate individuals to get healthcare through the ACA exchanges on healthcare.gov in a desperate attempt to lower the high monthly premiums.
Employers and insurers were also subjected to penalties if they did not identify who they were providing coverage for.
The bill to stop the tax penalty has been drafted as a provision in an annual I.R.S. and Treasury spending budget by the House Committee on Appropriations and it’s likely to be passed.
Author’s note: This could finally lead to the end of Obamacare. Without the penalty, less people will be forced to get on an expensive healthcare plan from the ACA exchanges. At the very least, it will protect individuals from one of the most unpopular ACA provisions.