Trump prods Congress to repeal individual mandate

Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell
President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday that while he is proud of the House and Senate for its work on tax reform, he also wants to see the legislation end the “unfair & highly unpopular” individual mandate.

President Donald Trump has again urged congressional Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate as part of their tax overhaul. But it’s still unclear whether any of them will listen.

Trump tweeted on Monday that while he is proud of the House and Senate for its work on tax reform, he also wants to see the legislation end the “unfair & highly unpopular” individual mandate, plus reduce taxes even further.

This is the second time the president has used Twitter to push GOP lawmakers to use their tax bills to roll back the individual mandate. So far, neither the House’s version of the legislation nor the Senate’s includes any language that addresses the issue—though Republicans in Congress have said it’s still on the table.

Last week, a GOP senator told the Washington Examiner that Trump has prepared an executive order as a backup plan in the event that an individual mandate repeal doesn’t make it into Congress’ tax overhaul. Though an executive order can’t directly repeal the mandate, it can direct the Department of Health and Human Services to broaden "hardship exemptions” allowed under the ACA, letting more people avoid paying the fine for lacking insurance.

Mixed messages over whether the individual mandate will continue to be enforced is one of the factors contributing the policy uncertainty that’s driven some insurance carriers to pull back from the ACA exchanges or hike their premiums—despite evidence that for many carriers, their individual market financial performance is improving.

However, the mandate remains one of the most unpopular parts of the ACA, and some have argued that the financial penalty isn’t enough to compel individuals to buy insurance.

A recently updated analysis from the Congressional Budget Office found that repealing the individual mandate would increase the number of uninsured people by 13 million and decrease the federal deficit by $338 billion over the next 10 years.