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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

GOP Senators Reintroduce Bill to Repeal Individual Mandate

January 29, 2015 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Last week, a group of 22 Senators reintroduced the American Liberty Restoration Act (S. 203), legislation to repeal provisions in the Affordable Care Act requiring individuals to have health insurance. Known as the “individual mandate,” the requirement went into effect in 2014, with this tax season being the first some will have to pay a fine for remaining uninsured.

The bill’s authors, Senators led by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) noted in a statement that individuals who did not purchase health insurance will face a fine of $95 or 1 percent of their income, whichever is more, for 2014. For the 2015 tax filing season, that penalty will increase to $325 or 2 percent of their income, whichever is more.

Senator Hatch said, “Washington should continue to work towards finding a way to equip patients with the tools needed to obtain access to health insurance, but not in a way that attacks the spirit of the Constitution and our treasured history of limited government.”

Senator Alexander referenced the upcoming King v. Burwell case when he added, “How can we continue to enforce the individual mandate when the law doesn’t clearly ensure that millions of Americans are allowed to receive subsidies to help cover the cost?” The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in the health insurance subsidies case in March, with a ruling to come by the end of June.

This bill is the latest in a series of Republican efforts to chip away at portions of the Affordable Care Act. Bills to repeal the law’s medical device tax and revise the definition of a full-time workweek have been introduced in both chambers of Congress and the House will hold a vote on full ACA repeal next week.

In his State of the Union address last week, President Barack Obama vowed to veto any legislation that takes away health insurance coverage, and said that “in the past year alone, about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.”