SB 6084 to impose an individual mandate on Washington state residents

By ROGER STARK  | 
LEGISLATIVE MEMO
|
Feb 13, 2018

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Key Findings

  1. The 2010 Affordable Care Act forced every American to own government-approved health insurance through the use of an individual mandate.
  2. The mandate proved ineffective and was repealed by Congress in 2017.
  3. The individual health insurance market, both inside and outside the Obamacare exchange, has become unstable in Washington state.
  4. The original SB 6084 bill would have required every citizen in Washington state to own health insurance through a state-based individual mandate.
  5. The amended bill, which passed the Washington State Senate along party lines, would establish a task force to develop a plan with penalty-collection methods to impose a state-based individual mandate on Washington residents.
  6. If SB 6084 is passed and if the legislature should ultimately adopt an individual mandate plan with penalties, Washington residents would be the only people in the country subject to the unpopular individual mandate.

 

Introduction

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, became law in 2010. It required every person in the United States to purchase or obtain government-approved health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty or fine.

The penalty was enforced by the Internal Revenue Service, which withheld the fine amount from a person’s income tax return. Throughout history, this type of requirement for citizenship had never been imposed by the federal government and it was challenged in the courts on constitutional grounds.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the individual mandate was constitutional if the penalty for not having insurance was viewed as a tax. The mandate became the least popular and most onerous part of Obamacare for the American public. Most Americans wanted Congress to repeal the mandate as soon as possible.

In 2017, Members of Congress were unable to pass meaningful health care reform. They were, however, able to pass a federal tax reform bill that included the elimination of the ACA individual mandate, starting in 2019.

Download this legislative memo here