President Trump struck a blow against his predecessor’s healthcare law by signing government funding legislation Friday that repealed major Obamacare taxes.
Trump signed the bill only two days after a major court decision on Obamacare that left the law in limbo until after the 2020 election. Democrats voted overwhelmingly in favor of the spending deal despite the fact that it repealed $373 billion in taxes meant to pay for Obamacare, a law they have defendedthe last three years in Congress and on the campaign trail.
The taxes were the latest part of Obamacare to get the axe under Trump. In 2017, Republicans sent Trump a tax overhaul bill that zeroed out Obamacare’s unpopular tax on the uninsured, known as the “individual mandate.”
But because Republicans, when they held all branches of government, failedto keep their promises to go further and replace most of Obamacare, the Trump administration for the most part has been working through administrative actions to alter the law. As a result, Obamacare has been reshaped rather than repealed.
For instance, the Trump administration allowed people to buy insurance outside of Obamacare’s rules through short-term plans, which aren’t required to cover the sick, and through small businesses and the self-employed banding together for the purpose of purchasing insurance. Officials have stressed the moves offer “freedom” from Obamacare, while Democrats say Trump is working to “sabotage” the healthcare law.
“President Trump had been waging a war on healthcare since day one,” Leslie Dach, chair of the pro-Obamacare organization Protect Our Care, said in a call with reporters Thursday.
But with Friday’s spending bill, Trump had help from both parties. There was one exception: Democrats managed to score two small wins on Obamacare, one that blocks the Trump administration from imposing rules to keep people from being able to automatically enroll in health insurance and another that would have caused certain Obamacare enrollees to pay more for coverage.
The parts of Obamacare that were thrown out were unpopular and had been suspended on a bipartisan basis before. Among them were the health insurance tax, which contributed to higher healthcare spending in 2018, the 2.3% excise tax on medical devices, as well as the “Cadillac tax,” a levy that was supposed to control spending by imposing a 40% tax on expensive employer plans.
Republican leaders on the Ways and Means Committee celebrated the change, saying they were “working for the American people.” Polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that Republican voters continue to oppose Obamacare even though they like some parts of it, including the rules that prohibit insurers from turning away sick customers or charging them more than healthy customers.