In what has been rumored for weeks, President Trump is set to move on reforms in the health insurance marketplace Obamacare by using the power of the executive order. He tweeted this morning: “Since Congress can’t get its act together on HealthCare, I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people – FAST.”
Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal previewed what’s in the presidential works for health care reform: Trump will issue an executive order (or orders) to instruct the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor (DOL) and the Treasury to rewrite Obamacare rules covering association health plans and short-term health insurance policies.
Association plans (could be a trade group or community group) can be sold across state lines and would not fall under the essential health benefits provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They would fall into the category of “skinny” plans and thus be cheaper, and would be open to individuals joining them. Short-term health insurance policies are now limited by regulation to three months in duration, stop-gap insurance in essence. Trump could re-up these plans to 364 days, which is where they stood before Obamacare.
These options should, according to industry watchers, drastically lower insurance premiums, but at the same time drain the young and healthy from the Obamacare marketplace, resulting in mostly older and sicker individuals using ACA policies. That could further result in the Obamacare marketplace deteriorating and in insurance companies fleeing the system.
Republicans like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) have championed association health plans as a way to lower insurance costs and give people more options.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Forbes published today, Trump called Obamacare “a total mess” and lay blame totally on his predecessor: “Obamacare is Obama’s fault. It’s never going to be our fault.”