Lisa Murkowski Backs Repealing Obamacare’s Individual Mandate

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 07: Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is seen in the Capitol's senate subway on September 7, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Williams/CQPHO

It just became a lot easier for Republicans to kill Obamacare’s individual mandate.

Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-AK), who has been largely quiet since she helped squash Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act earlier this year, on Tuesday wrote an op-ed in a local Alaska paper announcing her support for gutting the individual mandate through the tax bill.

“I believe that the federal government should not force anyone to buy something they do not wish to buy, in order to avoid being taxed,” she wrote.

While Murkowski says she is still undecided on the overall tax bill—which would give major breaks to corporations and the wealthy while eliminating deductions for graduate students, adoptive parents and many others—her support for the individual mandate’s repeal makes it much likelier to pass.

Her declaration comes after Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), often an ally of Murkowski’s, warned that repealing the mandate would hike health premiums so much that for many middle class Americans it would more than cancel out all the other tax breaks the GOP bill would provide.

This week, health insurance actuaries issued a similar warning, saying that repealing the mandate would take the country back to a pre-Obamacare era in which only the sick purchased health insurance, creating an extremely expensive and unstable risk pool.

The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that repealing the mandate would lead to about 13 million more people being without insurance over 10 years.