Trump signs executive order to weaken Obamacare

Trump signs executive order to weaken Obamacare

Frustrated by failures in Congress, President Donald Trump moved to put his own stamp on health care with an executive order Thursday that aims to make lower-premium plans more widely available.

But the administration noted that the order is just the beginning of what it expects to be other executive actions to reform rules related to the Affordable Care Act.

Republican Senator Rand Paul, who appeared at the White House ceremony with Trump after working with the president for months on the order, opposed the Senate's most recent attempt to overhaul Obamacare because he said it left too numerous law's regulations and spending programs in place.

The order, Trump said from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, would give "millions of Americans with Obamacare relief".

But the order will not necessarily have any significant practical impact by the time Obamacare's next open enrollment season starts next month because of the time it takes to propose and take public comment on the potential changes.

The directive would allow small businesses and some individuals to band together and form associations to sponsor coverage across state lines.

Under the new rules, association health plans will also be exempt from certain ACA rules, such as requirements that they cover standard benefits like prescription drug coverage. But responding to concerns, the White House said participating employers could not exclude any workers from the plan, or charge more to those in poor health.

"These short-term policies are going to be attractive to generally younger people", explained Brookings' Center for Health Policy fellow Matthew Fiedler. He said that he hopes that this executive order is able to make these options an affordable reality once again. Medicaid insurers also fell with Centene off 2.6 percent. "The proposal offers more choice to consumers in terms of coverage options".

Democrats were bracing for another effort by Trump to dismantle "Obamacare", this time with the rule-making powers of the executive branch.

The Trump administration is likely to face legal challenges from medical associations, consumer groups and some insurers who have railed against earlier repeal efforts. The Obama administration feared people would use the plans as a loophole to avoid regulations on insurance, and capped their length at three months.

"This loophole will undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions and raise premiums for those who need affordable health care the most", he said in a statement.

"With respect to short-term duration plans, we welcome and support returning to state regulators authority and market oversight of these products". For insurers, this would come at a time when much of the industry seems to have embraced the consumer protections required by the Obama health law.

Association plans could take longer to roll out, since the federal government will have to iron out regulations regarding them. Obamacare rules also do not apply to these plans, so prices can vary and they can cover fewer services. "This will be great health care".

About 17 million people buying individual health insurance policies are the main focus of Trump's order.

But those who get no subsidies are exposed to the full brunt of cost increases that could reach well into the double digits in many states next year. Trump's order would open up these plans not just to coworkers but to any group of companies "in the same line of business".

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