Health Care's Individual Mandate Is a Tax and Deserves to Be Part of the Tax Debate

One of the more inventive ways the GOP fights the battle for cutting taxes has been to introduce the Obamacare individual mandate as part of the tax cut discussion.Critics are bristling at the notion of including the individual mandate as part of a tax bill for two primary reasons.First, they argue that "health care" and tax policy should be separated. "Republicans had their chance to repeal Obamacare and failed."Second, they argue that eliminating the individual mandate would "take health care away" from X amount of Americans.To the first objection, the excuse does not hold water. The individual mandate is a tax. Period. The IRS collects the revenue and administers any penalties. The Affordable Care Act is the law today because Supreme Court Justice John Roberts said the individual mandate is a "tax" and not a "fee." Roberts' interpretation kept the Supreme Court from having to strike down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.Whatever one thinks of Roberts' decision, the reality remains: The individual mandate is a tax on Americans (6.5 million of whom paid the fine in 2016).As to the second objection, critics are relying heavily on estimates released by the Congressional Budget Office to claim that people would have their health care taken away. The claim is highly misleading for several reasons.First, people who choose not to have a health care plan wouldn't "lose" health care. They'd decide not to purchase a plan. The choice would be up to them. A person cannot "lose" something they've chosen not to keep.Second, the CBO reiled too heavily on the mandate as a reason people choose to buy health insurance. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Chris Pope of The Manhattan Institute writes of the mandate:As a newly released Manhattan Institute Issue Brief demonstrates, the mandate is superfluous to the ACA's core guarantee of affordable coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. In fact, it is subject to so many exemptions that recent studies have failed to discern any impact of the mandate on the proportion of Americans who are uninsured.  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us