Sen. Murkowski supports Obamacare mandate repeal

Rest of ACA would remain unchanged

By GREG CLARY , CNN
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(CNN) - Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Tuesday she supports the repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate.

The Obamacare individual mandate requires nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. Republican Senators have considered adding a repeal to this mandate in their tax reform bill.

"Repealing the individual mandate simply restores to people the freedom to choose. Nothing else about the structure of the ACA would be changed," Murkowski said in an op-ed to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "The only difference would be is (sic) if you choose to not buy health insurance, the government would not levy a tax on you."

A repeal of that penalty would give GOP lawmakers an additional $338 billion over 10 years to help pay for their proposed tax cuts, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But the CBO also estimated some 4 million fewer people would be covered by insurance in 2019, the first year the change would take effect. That number would rise to 13 million by 2027, as compared to current law. Meanwhile, insurance premiums would rise by about 10% in most years of the decade.

Murkowski was a key swing vote in the GOP's efforts to repeal Obamacare earlier this year, ultimately voting against repeal, and she is a key vote for the party's efforts to pass tax reform later this year.

"While I support repealing the individual mandate, I strongly support enacting the bipartisan compromise Alexander/Murray legislation into law as fast as possible to stabilize our markets, provide more control to states and more choices to individuals," she wrote in the op-ed, signaling support for the health care measure.

While Murkowski has now said she supports the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate, it isn't clear if she will support the tax reform bill as a whole.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is moving forward with a Senate process that only allows him to lose two votes and still pass his bill.

Already Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has announced he's opposed to the bill in its current form.

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