Daines highlights ACA individual mandate hitting poorer Americans hardest

Steve Daines

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) highlighted how the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate has cost low- and middle-income Americans billions of dollars on the Senate floor on Wednesday as part of a preview of his proposal to repay the tax penalty.

In 2014 and 2015, more than $5 billion was collected from Americans who failed to comply with ACA’s individual mandate, which requires taxpayers to buy health insurance or face a penalty. Daines recounted the stories of Montanans who were forced to pay what he called a “poverty tax” because it was cheaper than unaffordable monthly premiums for health plans.

“There are American families that can’t afford health insurance because of Obamacare, and what does Obamacare do? It fines them. Adding insult to injury,” Daines said. “… In fact, 40 percent of the 34,250 Montanans who paid Obamacare’s poverty tax made less than $25,000. Eighty percent made less than $50,000. And, instead of helping these vulnerable Montanans make ends meet, Obamacare put a poverty tax on them for being too poor to afford health insurance. Montanans paid nearly $7.8 million dollars to the IRS.”

Daines added that the individual mandate is immoral, unfair and “a tax on freedom.” He said he’d introduce an amendment to repeal the individual mandate to repay those who were forced to pay it.

“Our friends across the aisle will say we want to get rid of taxes on the rich, but the rich aren’t paying this tax, the poor are,” Daines said. “And I think they should be paid back, which is why I’ll have an amendment on the floor when we debate that will do just that. The poverty tax is just one of the many problems of Obamacare. Obamacare promised to lower insurance rates, but costly federal mandates on insurance companies raised rates. It promised more choice, but mandates removed competition from the marketplace.”

Daines concluded that Montanans deserve better than poverty taxes, increasing premiums and shrinking markets, and “it’s time we repeal Obamacare and start over.”