President Trump has been waiting for Republicans in Congress and Senate to successfully pass an alternative to the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).

Instead of waiting for the Congress and Senate to vote for a replacement, would it not be possible for Trump to simply sign any replacement (e.g. one drafted by the Republicans in Congress) into law through an Executive Order?

Or if this is not possible (for some reason), could he not simply remove the Individual Mandate through an Executive Order?

(I am trying to get an idea of the extent of the power that a President has with the ability to sign Executive Orders.)

2 Answers 2


No, he cannot sign an executive order to repeal the Affordable Care Act since it's a law. Laws can only be changed or written by Congress.

Executive orders cannot reverse a law passed by Congress. Limited in scope, their sweep isn't as broad as a piece of legislation.

Article I, Section 7 of the US Constitution states that all legislative powers are vested in Congress.

However, the President can weaken the enforcement of the Individual Mandate through executive action. He has in fact already signed an executive order that would weaken enforcement for all Americans to purchase insurance, should it be carried out. One can submit their taxes without filling out the insurance question, thus making enforcement more difficult.

It's worth stressing that this executive order does not grant any new powers or change the wording of the law, it simply weakens enforcement and scale back regulations should the Department of Health and Human Services want to.

Since the EO is vague, it's up to interpretation and enforcement so it would still depend on whether the HHS wants to continue to enforce the Individual Mandate. At the close of this year's tax season, It seems like the Trump administration is still enforcing it.

But Trump’s continued enforcement of the individual mandate — a provision that Republicans have targeted for elimination in their repeal bill — shows the depth of uncertainty within the administration over how to use its regulatory power to weaken the health care law while the GOP struggles to enact a replacement.

(emphasis mine)

The full text of the executive order can be found here.

  • Nice answer. To put an example that could be more known, President Obama did not make Marijuana shops legal but told the Feds not to enforce existing laws.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 19:10
  • Aren't there other things he can do to walk back Obama's executive actions? e.g. un-exempt cadillac plans that Obama exempted, un-postpone certain provisions that were postponed etc...
    – user4012
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 19:47

No, he can not "kill" ACA per se. However, by executive order, he may be able to order federal employees to not perform actions that are needed to make ACA function.

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