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Krauthammer: Obamacare hardship exemption ‘essentially cancels’ individual mandate [VIDEO]

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer predicted the demise of Obamacare’s mandate for individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, arguing that the Obama administration’s new interpretation of the hardship exemption is “essentially a cancellation of the individual mandate.”

Krauthammer spoke on a Fox News panel, along with syndicated columnist George Will and former Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers. The panelists reacted to a Wednesday Wall Street Journal editorial, which noticed that the Obama administration quietly changed the rules last week to allow people whose plans have been cancelled to opt out of Obamacare altogether — the so-called “hardship exemption.”

“It was in there, the hardship exemption,” host Bret Baier noted. “The Obama administration kind of laid it out, and it applies to people who lost their plans.”

“[HHS Secretary] Sebelius is implying it was in the plan all the time, in the bill,” Krauthammer replied. “Yes, it was. But it was very narrowly defined. It meant if you lost your house, you lost your job, if you are living in the back of a VW, then you are a hardship case and you are exempt from the individual mandate.”

“It’s now been redefined,” he continued, “so that all you have to do is to claim that going into the exchange would create a hardship. I mean, it’s ironic. It makes Obamacare itself the hardship — which is slightly ironic, but I think she is beyond the reach of irony so she didn’t quite see it.”

“All you have to do is say, ‘You know, this is hard on me,”’ Krauthammer explained. “You sign a paper, you don’t have to provide any other documentation. It’s essentially a cancellation of the mandate.”

George Will saw more irony in the rule change. “They told the Supreme Court, ‘It’s absolutely crucial that we have the individual mandate,’” he said. “Turns out nothing is crucial. Therefore, nothing is almost left of Obamacare.”

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