Since an ineffective Congress stalled on its efforts to overhaul ObamaCare, President Donald Trump has decided to take executive action on health care, calling for a plan that could let employers band together and offer coverage across state lines, according to a White House announcement on Thursday.
Trump signed an executive order which will offer “alternatives” to ObamaCare plans and increase competition to bring down costs.
“The time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across state lines, which will create a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring costs way down and provide far better care,” Trump announced in a statement.
According to officials, Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta has been ordered by Trump to consider expanding access to association health plans, which would allow employers to form groups offering coverage across state lines. These plans could possibly offer lower rates.
Association health plans could be shielded from some state and federal insurance requirements. However, the White House said that participating employers could not exclude any workers from the plan or charge more to those in poor health.
The order also calls on federal agencies to consider expanding coverage in low-cost, short-term insurance plans not subject to ObamaCare rules.
Health insurance companies have been leaving state markets, with roughly half of U.S. counties left with only one ObamaCare insurer next year.
Congressional Republicans have been unable to pass legislation repealing or reforming the Affordable Care Act, which critics say has led to rising premiums and diminishing coverage options. Trump’s executive order could clear the way for bare-bones insurance policies that would be less expensive.
Critics say that Trump’s order would raise costs for the sick, and the lower-premium coverage for healthy people would have significant gaps.
Cori Uccello, a senior health fellow for the American Academy of Actuaries, told Fox News, “There’s uncertainty of who is going to have oversight in terms of consumer protection. What redress does a consumer have, appeals processes, those kinds of things?”
White House domestic policy director Andrew Bremberg told reporters during a conference call on Thursday that the executive order is necessary because Obamacare has caused “costs to skyrocket.”
Bremberg pointed out that Trump’s order could affect tens of millions of Americans and said the administration also intends to take “additional actions” on health care in the coming months.
The administration wants to implement these changes within six months, a senior administration official said.
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