Pallone & Neal Request GAO to Investigate Trump Administration’s Enforcement of the ACA Individual Mandate

Aug 14, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) today urging the agency to investigate the Trump Administration’s enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate.

“The Trump Administration has sent strong signals about its intent to reduce or even eliminate enforcement of the individual mandate,” Pallone and Neal wrote to GAO.  “We believe that these signals are contributing to higher health insurance premiums and increased instability in the Marketplaces.”

“The individual mandate is a critical provision of the ACA that helps to hold down consumer costs and ensure marketplace stability,” Pallone and Neal continued in their letter to GAO. 

Uncertainty surrounding the Trump Administration’s enforcement of the individual mandate has contributed to double-digit premium increases for 2018 Marketplace plans. One analysis cited in the letter estimates that two-thirds of 2018 rate increases could be attributable to a combination of uncertainty related of individual mandate enforcement and cost-sharing reduction payments made to insurers.

On January 20, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order designed to undermine the ACA, instructing the Secretary of HHS and all other agency heads 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.”  The Ranking Members are concerned that this Executive Order is being invoked to undermine enforcement of the ACA’s provisions, including the individual mandate.  

In their letter, Pallone and Neal request that GAO’s investigation answer several questions including:

  • To what extent did Executive Order No. 13765 affect IRS’s enforcement of the individual mandate for the 2016 tax year?
  • How are IRS and HHS planning to enforce the individual mandate on tax returns for the 2017 tax year?
  • To what extent is Executive Order No. 13765 preventing IRS from fully enforcing the individual mandate on tax returns for the 2017 tax year?
  • What is the impact of the Administration’s nonenforcement or perceived nonenforcement of the individual mandate on 2018 rates in the individual market, as well as on Marketplace stability?

A copy of the letter to GAO is available here