"Freedom Caucus" chair Mark Meadows returns to scene of his crime to spit on his victim
Thanks to Twitter follower "@tweetmix" for bringing this to my attention.
Back in late January, I noted that while the ACA's Shared Responsibility Penalty (aka the Individual Mandate) was repealed by Congressional Republicans back in December, ithe repeal doesn't actually go into effect until spring 2020 (for lacking coverage in 2019). For 2017 and 2018, it's still on the books...and the IRS has stated point-blank that they will be rejecting tax returns that don't include a statement of ACA-compliant coverage. This, I noted, is going to piss off a whole bunch of confused people who are under the assumption tthat the mandate penalty has already been repealed. My suspicions were confirmed by last week's Kaiser Family Foundation survey, which found that sure enough, at least 21% of the country incorrectly thinks that they don't have to pay a fine for not having compliant coverage this year.
Well, I guess GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, chair of the batcrap-insane "Freedom Caucus", reads ACASignups.net, because a week ago week ago he sent out a letter to the House Appropriations Committee basically begging them to go back and make the repeal of the Individual MandatePenalty--which isn't actually set to go into effect until next year-- retroactive.
In other words, he wants to scrap the $695/person (or 2.5% of income) to the 6-7 million households who will otherwise have to pay the penalty for 2017 when they file their taxes next month as well as those who will have to pay it a year from now (for 2018).
On the one hand, one could argue that since the damage from repealing the mandate has already been done (remember, the whole point of it wasn't to punish people but to encourage them into enrolling in ACA-compliant coverage), it's now a moot point.
On the other hand, the same Kaiser study also found that a full 66% of the public either doesn't know that the mandate has been repealed at all or isn't sure whether it's still around or not (which, to be frank, is a pretty reasonable take for someone who doesn't keep abreast of this stuff). I'm sure this percentage will drop further as the year goes on (and especially as the 2019 Open Enrollment Period approaches and there's a ton of stories about it), but I'd guess that at least 50% of the population will still be fuzzy about the status of the mandate come November 1st.
In other words, the ACA individual mandate may still have some positive effect in 2019, if only because half the country will still think it's in effect, which will push some of them to #GetCovered...which will help with the stability of the risk pool. Which, of course, was the whole point of having the mandate penalty in the first place.
HOWEVER...if the GOP rubs salt in the very wound they created by making the repeal retroactive to 2017, even that small amount of good will be snuffed out altogether.