This week, the House and Senate continued to conference – or negotiate the differences between their two versions of the tax bill – and reports indicate the two chambers have struck a deal. Unfortunately, this deal includes the repeal of the individual mandate. NCCS met with Senator Susan Collins’ office this week to request that she oppose the tax bill as long it includes repealing the individual mandate, which would threaten important patient protections for cancer patients and survivors. Repealing the individual mandate would also result in 13 million fewer Americans having health coverage, and raise premiums by 10 percent.
Senator Collins voted in favor of the tax bill with the condition that two stabilization bills will be passed before the year ends in order to offset the negative impacts of repealing the individual mandate. One bill, known as Alexander-Murray, would temporarily restore cost sharing subsidies to insurers. The second bill, Collins-Nelson, would fund a two-year reinsurance program helping health plans cover particularly expensive patients. As we reported last week, these two stabilizing bills would not offset the expected premium increases as a result of repealing the individual mandate. Nor would they be able to mitigate the damage repealing the mandate would have on an already unsteady Obamacare market as it would lead to an exodus of healthy people and cause insurers to raise prices to cover the costs.
Congress is running up against the holiday recess and leadership is trying to get this bill through in the next week. There are lots of moving pieces and we will keep you updated as the story develops. Please call your Members of Congress, (202) 224-3121, and ask them to oppose the tax bill because tax reform should not come at the expense of cancer patients.