Cotton Calls for Repealing 'Hated' Obamacare Individual Mandate: It's 'Nothing More Than a Tax' on Working Families

November 19, 2017

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) continued his calls for removing the Obamacare individual mandate as part of tax reform on Sunday, calling it the "most hated and unpopular" part of the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Republicans have included repealing the individual mandate as part of their tax reform legislation, and "Face The Nation" host John Dickerson repeated the claim that such a measure would cause 13 million people to be without health insurance.

Dickerson's number comes from a Congressional Budget Office estimate that by 2025, 5 million fewer people would be on Medicaid, 5 million fewer would be on the Obamacare exchanges, and 3 million fewer would get health insurance from their employers if the mandate was repealed.

The Washington Post fact-checked a similar claim by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) that 13 million people would be "kicked off" their health insurance as misleading since it would be a voluntary action.

"What happens to those 13 million?" Dickerson asked.

"Well, John, remember what the hated Obamacare mandate is," Cotton said. "It fines an American family. They can't afford their insurance, insurance that Obamacare made unaffordable in the first place."

Cotton said the Senate bill doesn't cut funding for Medicaid or insurance subsidies or change any Obamacare regulations.

"It simply says the IRS cannot fine you if you cannot afford health insurance, so this has no impact on anyone who wants to get health insurance under Obamacare's individual exchanges or under the Medicaid expansion, under their employer's plan," Cotton said. "It simply says that working families and poor Americans—because four out of five Americans who pay this fine make less than $50,000—will no longer be fined for not being able to afford their insurance."

Dickerson said premiums could increase under such a plan, but Cotton replied lawmakers needed to fix problems that Obamacare made worse.

"We have a tax bill now that will repeal the most hated and unpopular part of Obamacare, the individual mandate, which is nothing more than a tax on working families and poor Americans," he said.

Cotton said he was disappointed Republicans failed in their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare last summer and would hopefully return to the legislation in 2018.

Cotton has repeatedly called for a repeal of the individual mandate as part of tax relief.

"We can repeal the individual mandate of Obamacare and save $300 to 400 billion for the federal government and therefore deliver more tax relief to our families and our workers and our businesses," Cotton said in a floor speech on Nov. 2. "That's not my math, that's the math of the Congressional Budget Office."

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that President Donald Trump would be open to taking out the mandate repeal, however, if it became an "impediment" to getting tax reform passed in the Senate.

The House of Representatives passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Thursday on a party-line vote, with 13 Republicans joining all the chamber's Democrats to vote against it.