Sen. Lisa Murkowski won’t be coming to the rescue of the Affordable Care Act this time around, she tells Alaskan voters in an op-ed in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner.
I have always supported the freedom to choose. 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. That is the fundamental reason why I opposed the Affordable Care Act from its inception and also why I cosponsored a bill to repeal the individual mandate tax penalty starting as early as 2013. And that is why I support the repeal of that tax today.
She goes on to talk about the effects of Obamacare in Alaska (with some significant factual errors that Charles Gaba is totally on) and then tells her readers:
Repealing the individual mandate simply restores to people the freedom to choose. Nothing else about the structure of the ACA would be changed. If you currently get tax credits to help pay for your insurance, you could still receive those credits if you choose to buy an exchange plan. If you are enrolled on Medicaid or received coverage under Medicaid expansion, you could still be enrolled if you choose to be. The only difference would be is if you choose to not buy health insurance, the government would not levy a tax on you.
She states her one demand that her tax cut vote may or may not hinge on: “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.” So now we know she’s definitely going to support the tax plan, and is looking for cover, as she hinted last week.
So there are a lot of problems with this argument. The first is that repealing the mandate won’t do anything to the structure of the ACA. That’s simply a lie. It will cause healthy people to leave the markets. It will mean insurers have to raise premium costs to cover the sick people who remain. It will cause a price spiral which will force more and more people out of the markets. That’s why the CBO says 13 million people will lose their insurance under the plan.
And here’s the kicker, which Murkowski has persistently ignored: Alexander-Murray, which restores cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, cannot undo the harm from mandate repeal. It would help insurers out, sure, and slightly reduce premium costs for one tier of plans—the silver plan that the CSR payments apply to—but all the other plans would have premium increases. And particularly large increases—like an annual increase of $2,900—in Alaska.
Oh, yeah, and it would force a $32 million reduction in Medicare, just in Alaska, just in the first year. Murkowski wants that massive tax cut for the wealthy, just like every other Republican. She’s willing to lie to her constituents to get it. Don’t let her get away with it.
Jam your senators’ phone lines at (202) 224-3121. Tell them to vote “no” on the Republican tax bill.
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