Trump expected to sign order
side-stepping Obamacare rules
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[October 12, 2017]
By Yasmeen Abutaleb
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump was expected to sign an executive order on Thursday that would
make it easier for Americans to buy bare-bones health insurance plans
and circumvent rules put in place by Obamacare, though such an order
could face legal challenges.
Stymied in Congress by the failure of Senate Republicans to roll back
former President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law, Trump's executive
order would represent his administration's latest effort to undermine
the law without legislation.
The order would allow small businesses and individuals to band together
as associations to buy cheaper health plans that would be exempt from
some Obamacare requirements. Among the requirements would be the mandate
that all health plans cover 10 essential health benefits, including
maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, and mental health and
The order would also change an Obama-era limit on the time span people
can use short-term health insurance plans, which are cheaper but cover
few medical benefits. Trump was expected to order an extension for the
period that long short-term insurance can be used to about a year,
versus three months under Obamacare.
Republicans, despite having control of the White House and both chambers
of Congress, have for months been unable to make good on their
seven-year promise to repeal Obamacare, which they view as a government
intrusion into Americans' healthcare.
Experts questioned whether Trump has the legal authority to expand
association health plans and whether some plans, but not others, could
be exempt from Obamacare rules.
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, a law that brought health insurance coverage to
millions of Americans.
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump calls on Republican Senators to move forward
and vote on a healthcare bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, as
people negatively affected by the law stand behind him, in the Blue
Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2017.
Experts said the association health plans could attract young,
healthy people and leave a sicker, more expensive patient pool in
the individual insurance markets created under the healthcare law,
driving up premiums and effectively eroding the law's protection for
those with pre-existing conditions.
Conservative groups and lawmakers, including Republican Senator Rand
Paul, who said he has worked with Trump for months on the expected
order, and Republican Senator Ron Johnson, have cheered the expected
order. Paul opposed the Senate's most recent attempt to overhaul
Obamacare because he said it left too many of Obamcare's regulations
and spending programs in place.
Trump has taken a number of steps since assuming power in January to
weaken or undermine Obamacare. He has not committed to making
billions of dollars of payments to insurers guaranteed under
Obamacare, prompting many to exit the individual market or hike
premiums for 2018.
The administration also halved the open enrollment period, which
begins Nov. 1, and slashed the Obamacare advertising and outreach
(Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and
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