Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump to sign health care executive order Thursday

Trump to sign health care executive order Thursday

Trump plans to sign an executive order "to promote health care choice and competition" on October 12 at a White House event that will be attended by small-business owners and others.

President Donald Trump directed his administration Thursday to rewrite federal rules so consumers can have wider access to health insurance plans featuring lower premiums.

However, it could also destabilize Obamacare by siphoning out younger and healthier Americans from the exchanges.

In a summary of the new executive order, the White House said that a broader interpretation of federal law - the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 - "could potentially allow employers in the same line of business anywhere in the country to join together to offer health care coverage to their employees".

Trump said the measures "should have been done a long time ago, and could have been done a long time ago".

Administration officials one of the main ideas is to ease the way for groups and associations of employers to sponsor coverage that can be marketed across the land. The Obama administration said that coverage offered to dozens or hundreds of small businesses through a trade or professional association would not be treated as a single large employer health plan for the objective of insurance regulation.

Separately, the order would allow consumers to buy short-term policies, which don't have to comply with Obamacare's protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

- Allowing employers to set aside pre-tax dollars so workers can use the money to buy an individual health policy.

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Stymied in Congress by the failure of Senate Republicans to pass legislation to dismantle Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement, Trump's order marks his administration's latest effort to undermine the law without action by lawmakers.

Whereas the Affordable Care Act attempted to keep costs down by pushing as many people as possible into a single insurance pool with regulated, robust health plans, Trump's order incentivizes healthy people and businesses with healthy employees to leave the markets.

Speaking in the Oval Office earlier this week, Trump previewed unilateral action that he claimed would dramatically improve insurance options for Americans, which he said had been limited by Obamacare. "They will be able to buy across state lines. And you will get such low prices for such great care".

Trump first vowed late last month to take executive action to fix aspects of the law, which he has deemed a failure. The plan has drawn backing from legislators like Sen. Republican Senator Rand Paul, who said he worked with Trump for months on the order, opposed the Senate's most recent attempt to overhaul Obamacare because he said it left too many of Obamcare's regulations and spending programs in place.

Exactly how the agencies would change current regulations remains to be seen.

Experts questioned whether Trump has the legal authority to expand association health plans. Instead, the nationwide plans would be subject to the same federal oversight as large-employer policies.

The order also loosens restrictions on "short-term" health insurance plans that were created to offer temporary coverage for people who are between jobs, for example.

A decision by Obama appointees in 2011 discouraged the use of association health plans as a substitute for Affordable Care Act policies because officials feared they would be used to circumvent the law's coverage mandates. They generally must cover children up to age 26 on their parents' plans, can not impose lifetime limits on covered benefits and can not charge co-payments for preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies.

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