Report: Trump Planning Executive Order to Unravel Obamacare’s Individual Mandate

Trump-executive-order-obamacare-10-12-17-ap Evan Vucci
Evan Vucci/AP

According to a report from the Washington Examiner, President Donald Trump will prepare an executive order that will unravel Obamacare’s individual mandate.

A Republican senator told the Examiner that the executive order resides at the Office of Management and Budget waiting for final approval. President Trump reportedly delayed the executive order after Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) pushed to include a repeal of the individual mandate in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

A White House official pushed back on the Senators’ claims, saying that the Trump administration’s position remains that Congress should resolve the issue of repealing Obamacare.

The White House staffer said, “Pursuant to the President’s January EO on Obamacare, we are always looking for ways to provide relief from Obamacare. The long-standing issues with the mandate would be best resolved legislatively.”

Repealing the individual mandate could save $416 billion over a decade, which would, in turn, save billions needed to help pay for the Republicans tax plan. House Speaker Paul Ryan suggested this past weekend that the House could propose to include the individual mandate’s repeal in the tax plan, although, some Republicans remain concerned that including the Obamacare partial repeal could halt tax reform.

President Trump cannot repeal the individual mandate outright through executive order, but Trump can direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through expanded “hardship exemptions,” which is left to the discretion of the executive branch. The hardship exemption would allow Americans to avoid paying the government the $695 fine or 2.5 percent of one’s income, whichever is larger, for not obtaining health insurance.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data suggests that 6.5 million Americans paid penalties for failing to maintain health insurance coverage in 2015.

After witnessing Congressional Republican leadership fail twice to repeal Obamacare, President Trump signed an executive order in October to expand the affordable health insurance market.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) cheered the executive order as “the biggest free-market reform of health care in a generation.”

The Republican senator told the Washington Examiner that Trump’s executive order could make it administration policy to avoid collecting fines from Americans who cannot afford health insurance, effectively repealing the individual market.