After months of rallying his constituents around the call to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, president-elect Donald Trump might be leaning towards keeping one of the law’s provisions that Republicans hate most: the individual mandate. Trump hinted last Friday that could happen.
The mandate, also known as the shared responsibility fee, is a penalty incurred for those who opt out of health insurance. In 2016, it amounted to $695 per person, or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever was greater. The penalty fee exists so that one of Obamacare’s core provisions, the preexisting conditions statute, can be effective. That provision bans insurers from rejecting someone from healthcare coverage because they have existing medical conditions. The penalty fee is designed to ensure that healthy people will buy coverage to balance out those with pre-existing conditions who need additional and more expensive care.
Republicans have often criticize the individual mandate as an overreach of government that requires everyone to have healthcare regardless of whether or not they want it. Without the mandate, however, insurers wouldn’t be able to adequately cover the portion of the population with preexisting conditions.
Trump now says he’d like to keep the pre-existing conditions provision. When asked about it an interview Friday with CBS’s “60 Minutes” he explained that “it happens to be one of [Obamacare’s] strongest assets.”
It seems Trump is not as adamant about getting rid of the Affordable Care Act as he once was.
“Either Obamacare will be amended, or repealed and replaced,” Trump told “60 Minutes.” “I told him I will look at his suggestions and out of respect, I will do that,” he said of his meeting with President Barack Obama.
“The administration recognizes that the problems with the U.S. healthcare system did not begin with – and will not end with the repeal of – the ACA,” the president-elect’s website now reads. That’s a vastly more flexible position than the one Trump took throughout his campaign. In the month of October alone, Trump tweeted more than 18 times about Obamacare, repeatedly calling for it to be “repealed and replaced” and calling it a “disaster.” His campaign website previously stated he would repeal the law on his first day in office.
Republicans have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act at least 60 times since it became law in 2010.
“For all the repeal votes, they didn’t have a set program to replace it. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump only described it as ‘something terrific.’ They’re basically backed into a corner,” said Julie Rovner, a senior correspondent at the Kaiser Family Health Foundation in a podcast Wednesday. “They have to do it. They have to repeal the law and they have to figure out what they’re going to replace it with and that’s what’s going to play out over the next year.”