Medicare cuts, individual mandate repeal rolled into GOP tax bill

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The GOP tax bill could bring cuts to the Medicare program, CBO said.
The GOP tax bill could bring cuts to the Medicare program, CBO said.

Republican Senators on Tuesday added a provision to their tax overhaul bill that would roll back the individual insurance mandate included in the Affordable Care Act.

A repeal of the mandate, one of the cornerstones of the ACA, was advocated by President Donald Trump in late October. GOP Senate members initially held off on adding the repeal to the bill, concerned that its inclusion could hurt the bill's chances. The House version of the bill did not include a similar repeal as of production deadline.

In addition to the mandate repeal, the updated tax legislation may include a healthcare agreement penned by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) that would fund subsidies to help lower-income people afford healthcare, The Washington Post reported.

The tax legislation has earned criticism from LeadingAge, which voiced concerns earlier this month that changes to tax exemptions and deductions could jeopardize funding to Medicaid-reliant providers, and possibly even force some rural facilities to close.

On Tuesday, long-term care providers took another potential hit, with the Congressional Budget Office finding that the bill could lead to $25 billion in Medicare cuts in 2018. The bill's $1.5 trillion tax cut could set off sequestration — or mandatory cuts — in some federal programs, such as Medicare, CBO said.

The House tax bill is scheduled for a vote later this week.