Policy

CBO: Insurance Market Stabilization Impact Null If Mandate Repealed

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Legislation from the duo at the helm of the Senate health panel would do little to improve the number of uninsured individuals if the mandate created by the 2010 health law is repealed, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

A repeal of the mandate — which requires individuals to purchase insurance or pay a yearly fine — is currently included in the GOP bill to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

Some Republican senators, like Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, have cited the legislation from Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the panel’s top Democrat, as a necessary measure should the mandate be repealed.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also previously told Roll Call that Congress “absolutely must have the Alexander-Murray piece that is passed into law” if the mandate is repealed.

CBO previously estimated repealing the mandate would lead to an additional 13 million uninsured individuals over the next decade.

The nonpartisan budget office said passage of the Alexander-Murray measure would do little to change that if the mandate is also repealed.

“The agencies expect that the interactions among the provisions would be small; the effects on premiums and the number of people with health insurance coverage would be similar,” CBO wrote in a Wednesday letter to Murray.

GOP aides say the Alexander-Murray measure will likely be added to an upcoming bill to fund the government in some capacity in fiscal year 2018 in order to help persuade skeptical Republican members to vote for the tax bill.

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