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'We have essentially repealed Obamacare,' Trump says after tax bill passes

President Trump at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday at the White House. (Chris Kleponis / Getty Images)
President Trump at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday at the White House. (Chris Kleponis / Getty Images)

President Trump is celebrating Republicans’ passage of the tax overhaul bill as a two-fer: On Wednesday, in addition to tax cuts, he checked off his promise to repeal Obamacare, pointing to a provision in the bill to end the penalty on Americans who don’t get health insurance.

"We have essentially repealed Obamacare," Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

Other provisions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act are still in place, and Trump and congressional Republicans failed completely on the “replace” half of their vow to “repeal and replace” the program.

In Trump’s view, however, stripping away the law’s “individual mandate” to get insurance or else pay a tax penalty amounts to repeal of the whole law. Congressional analysts have said that millions of people would lose insurance as a result, either by choice or because they cannot afford it without subsidies, and that premiums would increase for others as younger, healthy people drop coverage.

“We will come up with something much better,” Trump said, adding that block grants to states could be one approach.

By his comments, Trump tacitly acknowledged that repeal of the mandate is likely the best he can do following Republicans’ failure this year to agree on a repeal-and-replace bill.

Looking back on his first year, Trump also boasted of his administration’s efforts against the Islamic State and increased immigration enforcement. He said he had not given up on funding a border wall or tightening immigration law to limit citizens’ ability to resettle foreign relatives in the country. He said he would “very shortly” visit the border with Mexico near San Diego to see wall prototypes that have been built.

He didn’t answer a reporter’s shouted question about how he would personally benefit from the tax bill.

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