(From The Washington Examiner)
Finally, and perhaps most important from the long-run perspective: repealing the individual mandate gets it off the books and out of the way for future health reform plans. Undoubtedly, one of the most harmful talking points used against efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare was the charge that these plans would leave 22 million Americans without coverage. But a closer look at the CBO score reveals that 73 percent of the coverage change (then 16 million out of 22 million) was a result of repealing the individual mandate. If Congress repeals the individual mandate now, as part of tax reform, this will pave the way for a more politically friendly battlefield over future health reforms.
The debate over the individual mandate puts Democrats in a difficult position. They have to defend the least popular part of an already very divisive law. Yet most Democrats believe the individual mandate to be a critical piece of Obamacare that holds the rest of the law together. This is how: Obamacare takes away the ability of insurance companies to offer different prices to different customers based on risk. This creates an incentive for people to go without coverage until they have a need for it (at which point they can enroll at the same price as a healthy person). This would ultimately cause a “death spiral,” a phenomenon where only the unhealthy seek coverage.
To stop this, the law includes the mandate, which is supposed to force people to enroll in coverage even if they don’t see it as a beneficial financial arrangement.