President Signs First Executive Order, Limits “Burdens” of ACA
On Friday, hours after his inauguration, President Donald Trump signed the first executive orders of his presidency, directing federal agencies to waive enforcement of any “financial burden on a state, company or individual” imposed by the Affordable Care Act.
The one-page document does not provide specifics but instead uses broad language to give federal agencies – the Department of Health & Human Services in particular – the ability to waive, change or delay parts of the law they feel are too costly for insurers, drug makers, doctors, patients or state. This development not only allows President Trump to claim that he kept his promise to act immediately against the ACA before beginning the difficult path of repealing and replacing the law.
Under fire from the new order is the individual mandate, which requires everyone – with some exceptions—to have health insurance. Many experts have warned that repealing the individual mandate could lead to a collapse of the individual health insurance market. It is believed that the Trump administration will handle this by extending “hardship exemptions” to penalize fewer people for failing to have insurance.
Furthermore, this new executive order sets the groundwork for allowing insurance companies to sell plans across state lines, an idea President Trump has expressed while on the campaign trail. The order allows for “the development of a free and open market in interstate commerce for the offering of healthcare services and health insurance, with the goal of achieving and preserving maximum options for patients and consumers.”
It is still unclear if, when and how this new executive order will be executed. Many of the agencies tasked with the enforcement the order wants to ease are still without a sectary, including HHS whose nominee Tom Price could be confirmed as early as this week. It is also unclear how this will affect the different views the president and congress have for the future of healthcare reform.
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