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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The early consensus on President Trump's executive order is that it could cause problems with insurers — because it's so vague, but could be read as an attack on the individual mandate. Insurers want clear signals about what's next, so it's a good bet that muddying the waters isn't going to help.

The possible weakening of the mandate is the angle that's dominating the national coverage, including the Washington Post's writeup, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Saturday that the order "appears to target the individual mandate."

There's an important caveat, though: The executive order doesn't do anything more than set goals for the agencies, which won't officially be under new leadership until President Trump's team is in place.

"This order doesn't by itself do anything. It sends marching orders to federal agencies but doesn't grant them any new powers," said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation. However, he said, "my reading is that the order is signaling loosening up on the individual mandate and required benefits, and giving states more flexibility."

Nicholas Bagley, a respected legal expert on Obamacare, has a good post up about how to decode the language on flexibility. He says the broad language on waivers or exemptions for costs, fees, taxes, and other burdens:

[R]eads like bureaucratic code for 'kill the individual mandate by any means possible.'

And here's how Andy Slavitt, the outgoing chief of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, responded to the executive order on Twitter:

Unsupported embed type

Levitt agreed that the uncertainty itself is the biggest problem: "Something we can be certain of is that this order creates much more uncertainty for insurers just as they're formulating their plans for 2018."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”