President Trump touted the elimination of what he called the “cruel” ObamaCare penalty Tuesday during his first official State of the Union address.

The president was referring to the individual mandate—the linchpin of former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. The requirement to buy insurance or face a penalty, or tax, was ended as part of the GOP tax overhaul.

“We eliminated an especially cruel tax that fell mostly on Americans making less than $50,000 a year – forcing them to pay tremendous penalties simply because they could not afford government-ordered health plans,” Trump said during his speech. “We repealed the core of disastrous ObamaCare—the individual mandate is now gone.”

Trump’s reference to the mandate drew significant applause from Republicans on the House floor, with some offering a standing ovation.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate required most people to have health insurance meeting specific standards. The law imposed tax penalties for violations. The idea behind the mandate was to ensure that young and healthy customers were buying into the system, to offset the cost of taking on more sick and elderly customers.


The mandate repeal was part of the final tax bill sent to the president’s desk in December.

Trump tweeted in late December that the repeal of the mandate would unravel the 2010 law in its entirety and spur a bipartisan health overhaul.

Official estimates predict 4 million more people would be uninsured the year the mandate repeal takes effect, and 13 million more Americans would be uninsured by about 2027.