Trump Signs Executive Order Undermining Obamacare

(CN) – Making good on his promise to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act “since Congress can’t get its act together on health care,” President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday directing federal agencies to revise their rules to allow trade associations and other groups to offer their own health plans.

The order also instructs the departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to revise their rules implementing various provisions of the health care law to allow so-called association health plans to cross state lines.

Trump also said he also direct the federal government to lift Obama-era limits on short-term insurance plans sold outside of the markets created as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, allowing the plans to last as long as 12 months and be renewed.

A third element of the order looks to expand a program allowing employers to set aside pre-tax dollars to help pay workers’ insurance premiums.

The president said the order’s provisions will provide what he calls “Obamacare relief” for millions of Americans.

National Association of Insurance Commissioners president Ted Nickel said in a statement Thursday that while the intention of the order may be to provide broad access to healthcare, the end result may fall short of current expectations.

“With respect to short-term duration plans, we welcome and support returning to state regulators authority and market oversight of these products. The NAIC has long expressed concerns with expanding [associated health plans] in a manner that reduces consumer protections or solvency requirements that promote safe and sound markets,” Nickel said.

Also among those weighing in on the issue Thursday was Matthew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a tax-exempt organization that pursues litigation related to evangelical Christian values.

Among its high-profile cases was that County Clerk Kim Davis, on Rowen County, Ky., who  stopped issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry.

“ObamaCare has been a disaster,” Staver said in a statement. “It has increased healthcare costs, limited access to quality care, trampled religious freedom and forced Americans to fund the killing of innocent children. I applaud President Trump for taking the lead to dismantle one of the worst pieces of legislation in our history.”

Andrew Bremberg, director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House told reporters during a briefing Thursday morning that the order was only the beginning to actions taken by the administration to assist “Obamacare’s victims.”

According to a statement from the White House, half a million fewer Americans enrolled in Obamacare in 2017 when compared to 2016. The current exchange enrollment is also “60 percent below what the Congressional Budget Office expected when the law took effect,” the administration said.

This story is developing …

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