President Donald Trump has taken a major step to change Obamacare, signing an executive order today that will make it easier to get cheaper health insurance.
The executive order will allow small businesses and those seeking insurance to find coverage across state lines by forming associations to get sponsored coverage.
The President voiced his frustration that the Republican-controlled Congress has been unable to repeal Obamacare on multiple tries, thanks largely to a handful of GOP senators who opposed the proposed bill. He said this executive order should make it easier for consumers to get basic insurance at a low cost. Current Obamacare laws forced consumers to pay significantly higher rates for less coverage.
“Since I became president of the United States, I just keep hearing repeal and replace, repeal, replace, well, we’re starting that process. And we’re starting it in a very positive manner,” Trump said at the White House, calling ObamaCare “a nightmare.”
The order, the president said, “directs the Department of Health and Human Services, the Treasury, and the Department of Labor, to take action to increase competition, increase choice, and increase access to lower-priced, high-quality health care options … and people will have great, great health care.”
Trump also said he would continue to pressure Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Trump has long argued that interstate competition will lead to lower premiums — though experts say it could also hike premiums for older Americans and those with pre-existing conditions.
The new policies also do not have to provide the 10 “essential health benefits” covered under ObamaCare, including maternity care, emergency room visits, mental health treatment and others.
Trump’s move is likely to encounter opposition from medical associations, consumer groups and even insurers — the same coalition that has lobbied the GOP-controlled Congress against earlier repeal-and-replace efforts.
It was unclear when the plans would become available, but it’s unlikely consumers could sign up during the 2018 open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 1.
Experts questioned Trump’s authority to issue such an order that would exempt some plans but not others from ObamaCare rules rather than pursuing the changes through legislation.
The action could open Trump to legal challenges from Democratic state attorneys general, who have said they will sue Trump if he tries to destroy ObamaCare.
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