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executive orders

Trump is apparently ready to repeal ObamaCare's individual mandate via executive order

The Trump administration has apparently given an executive order eliminating ObamaCare's individual mandate to the Office of Management and Budget, the Washington Examiner reports. President Trump is reportedly waiting to sign such an order to see if the GOP will first include repeal of the mandate in its tax reform bill.

The individual mandate is the portion of ObamaCare that requires individuals to purchase health care or face a fine. Though Trump could not literally undo the mandate via executive order, he could expand ObamaCare's "hardship exemptions," which offer a set of conditions, like bankruptcy or natural disaster, that would allow customers to not be penalized for not having coverage. A broader list of hardship exemptions would effectively curtail the individual mandate.

The executive order now awaits approval, as Trump has held off on signing it after Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) pushed to include the individual mandate's repeal in the GOP tax bill. The White House declined to comment on the Washington Examiner's report, saying that the administration "does not get ahead of potential executive orders until they're ready to be announced."

Last week, Trump tweeted his support for including a repeal of the "unfair and unpopular" mandate in the Republican tax bill. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said over the weekend that the repeal of the individual mandate was "one of the things being discussed" as House Republicans finalize their bill. An unnamed GOP senator told the Washington Examiner said repeal could be incorporated because the revenue it would generate "pays for so many tax cuts."

Still, some Republicans have warned that including a mandate repeal could make it harder to pass tax reform. Last week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told Politico's Seung Min Kim: "I would prefer to stay out of the health-care process because it's tough enough to do a tax bill." Kelly O'Meara Morales

Update 2:25 p.m. ET: The Washington Examiner updated their story to reflect the White House's response. "The long-standing issues with the mandate would be best resolved legislatively," an unnamed White House official told the Examiner, adding that no executive order is waiting at the OMB. The Republican senator who originally spoke to the Examiner stood by his account.