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I asked our team to pause for family time this week before kids return to school. The homepage is updated daily. The Digest returns on Monday, August 2. —Mark Alexander

Thomas Gallatin / Jan. 23, 2017

Trump Begins the Repeal of ObamaCare

He signed executive orders opening the doors for Republicans to act.

One of Donald Trump’s first acts as president was to make good on one of his biggest campaign promises: the repeal of ObamaCare. On Friday, Trump signed executive orders directing Health and Human Services and other federal agencies to “exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products or medications.”

One may question whether Trump has the power to issue this directive. The short answer is yes, due to way the law was written and implemented, giving the HHS secretary broad authority in deciding on application of the law and in the granting of waivers. Recall how Barack Obama early on slowed implementing some of the more controversial aspects of ObamaCare in order to establish the more favorable aspects of the law before the general public experienced the negative aspects. It was a shrewd political move by the Democrats at the time, but now those “chickens have come home to roost.”

Trump directed an attacked on the very core of ObamaCare — the most objectionable and offensive part of the entire law — the individual mandate. Does this mean that overnight every American is exempt? No, the law with its individual mandate is still in effect. What Trump has done is largely symbolic, with one major caveat — the contraception mandate. The law was not specific on this issue, which allowed Obama to run roughshod in forcing his leftist views onto the American public, precipitating a slew of lawsuits currently working their way through the courts. Trump could rescind the mandate immediately, but it might behoove him to allow the courts to determine the legality of the mandate in hopes of ruling it unconstitutional, thereby preventing future attempts at a mandate.

Trump’s actions on Friday by no means end ObamaCare, but he took a good first step, and effectively paved the way for Republicans in Congress to act quickly.

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