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Republican Bill Would Suspend Obamacare Mandate Amid Premium Hikes

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The Obamacare Tax Relief and Consumer Choice Act, introduced last month by Republican senators, would suspend Obamacare’s individual mandate when health insurance premiums rise.

Sens. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.), John McCain (R., Ariz.), James Lankford (R., Okla.), Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), and Richard Burr (R., N.C.) introduced the bill at a time when major insurers such as Aetna and UnitedHealth have announced they will cut participation in the Obamacare exchanges. Insurers participating in Obamacare are requesting an average national rate increase of 23.9 percent.

Obamacare’s individual mandate requires individuals to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS. In 2016, uninsured individuals must pay either 2.5 percent of their family income or a flat fee of $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, whichever is greater.

The bill would suspend this penalty under two circumstances. The mandate would no longer apply to residents in states where health insurance premiums have increased by 10 percent or more on average. The mandate also would not apply to individuals who cannot afford the deductible of available health care plays, under Obamacare’s current definition of affordability.

“Because these deductibles are so high, especially the bronze plans, this would essentially exempt everyone making less than close to $100,000 dollars regardless of whether premiums went up in your state or not, the deductible would be a huge exemption from the mandate,” said a Senate aide who is familiar with the bill. – READ MORE

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