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Congress deals 2 blows to Affordable Care Act
1221 Health
The Healthcare.gov website is seen on a laptop computer in Washington. - photo by Associated Press

Congress dealt a pair of blows to the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday when it passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut. 

The action repeals the individual mandate that all people purchase health insurance. The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the provision of the health law was constitutional.

But the bitter political battle that seemed to hold the fate of “Obamacare” in the balance didn’t end with the ruling. 

When Republicans failed to repeal the ACA earlier this year, the law became a target in negotiations over the sweeping tax reform plan. 

It ends the tax penalties the 2010 statute imposes on people who don’t buy insurance. That provision is aimed at prodding healthy people to purchase coverage, which helps contain premiums for all customers.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said repealing that penalty would produce 13 million additional uninsured people and push premiums higher by an average 10 percent.

The number of uninsured people would grow mostly because fewer people would be expected to get coverage under Medicaid or by buying individual policies.

Also on Wednesday, Republican senators fighting to restore subsidies to insurers to keep patient premiums lower — which President Donald Trump halted this fall in an attempt to weaken the health law and which might be exacerbated by the repeal of the individual mandate — said they would wait to find a fix at a later date. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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