Trump administration hints at enforcing ObamaCare mandate

Trump administration hints at enforcing ObamaCare mandate
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The Trump administration is hinting that it will continue to enforce the ObamaCare mandate requiring Americans to have health insurance coverage.

An administration document obtained by The Hill that accompanies an executive order signed by President Trump Thursday states that "only Congress can change the law" when it comes to the mandate.

"Will the Administration be enforcing the individual and employer mandates?" the question and answer document asks.

"While HHS has the ability to define a hardship exemption for the purpose of the individual mandate, the tax penalties are contained in the Internal Revenue Code and only Congress can change the law," the document states in response, referring to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The statement leaves some room for creating more exemptions to enforcement of the mandate, noting that the administration can offer "hardship exemptions." But it emphasizes that only Congress can change the law that mandates penalties for not having coverage.

Supporters of ObamaCare are worried that the administration could ease up on enforcement of the mandate, which could undermine the stability of the markets under the law if healthy people decided to drop coverage.

"The administration believes Congress should repeal the individual and employer mandates — respective penalties, enforced by the IRS, on people who fail to purchase Washington-approved coverage and employers with at least 50 workers that fail to offer Washington-approved coverage," the document, which was circulating among lobbyists on Thursday, states.

Separately, it also argues that ObamaCare's subsidies will protect Americans if their premiums increase as a result of Trump's executive order (EO).

"Nearly nine-in-ten people with an exchange plan receive premium tax credits and will largely be unaffected by this EO," the document states. "People who receive tax credits are insulated from bearing the cost of the higher premium since the credit limits the amount of income they pay for a benchmark plan."

Democrats have warned that the order will result in higher premiums if healthy people migrate away from ObamaCare plans to the new, skimpier plans that the order opens up.