After having previously cut so-called "cost reduction subsidies" (see: Trump To Scrap Crucial Obamacare Insurer Subsidy) and the marketing budget for Obamacare, Trump is now reportedly ready to also repeal the legislation's controversial "individual mandate" which taxes people who choose to forego health insurance.
According to the Washington Examiner an executive order has already been drafted to scrap the mandate but has not yet been executed only due to ongoing GOP debates over whether or not to include the repeal in the pending tax bill.
The Trump administration has prepared an executive order that would unravel Obamacare's individual mandate, but has put it on hold to see whether it might be included in the Republican tax bill instead, a GOP senator told the Washington Examiner.
According to the senator, an executive order is sitting with the Office of Management and Budget waiting for approval. President Trump decided to delay the executive order after Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., pushed for the inclusion of the individual mandate repeal in the tax bill, and has been supportive of its inclusion in statements he has made on Twitter.
Of course, including the individual mandate repeal in the tax legislation is intended create billions in budget savings and offset lower tax receipts but it could come with the unfortunate side effect of alienating potential mainstream GOP votes in the Senate who refused to support the Obamacare repeal efforts earlier this year.
Including repeal of the individual mandate in the tax bill instead of through executive order would create billions in budget savings that Republicans need to pay for tax cuts. According to a Congressional Budget Office report published in December 2016, repeal of the individual mandate would save $416 billion over a decade, since it would mean fewer subsidy payments to people who sign up. A new CBO report is expected Monday.
The repeal is not currently in the tax bill, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but House Speaker Paul Ryan said this weekend that it was on the negotiation table among House Republicans.
"We have an active conversation with our members on a whole host of ideas on things to add to this bill and that's one of the things being discussed," he said.
The senator who spoke to the Washington Examiner, who asked to remain anonymous, thinks colleagues could embrace repeal in the tax bill, because the revenue generated "pays for so many tax cuts."
According to the Washington Examiner, Trump cannot repeal the individual mandate through executive order, but he can broaden "hardship exemptions," which under Obamacare are left to the discretion of the administration. The exemptions allow customers to have ways to get out of paying the fine for not having coverage, which is $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is higher.
The Obama administration created hardship exemptions for a range of situations, including if someone filed for bankruptcy, experienced a flood, death of a family member, domestic violence or a shut-off notice from a utility company.
Of course, it's only a matter of time until Nancy Pelosi and/or Chuck Schumer take a stage somewhere to tell us precisely how many people will die as a result of Republicans even talking about an "individual mandate" repeal.