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Trump to sign health care executive order Thursday
12 October 2017, 08:22 | Devin Moran
Evan Vucci AP
The White House says Trump will sign the order at 11:15 Thursday morning in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.
Speaking in the Oval Office earlier this week, Trump previewed unilateral action that he claimed would dramatically improve insurance options for Americans, which he said had been limited by Obamacare. However, after Trump finished his remarks, he apparently forgot that he actually had to sign the order at his executive order signing, and made for the door. Also, it looks to broaden the ability of employers to give workers money to buy their own coverage through health reimbursement arrangements.
Specifically, the executive order directs Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta to consider expanding access to Association Health Plans, which could allow employers to form groups across state lines.
President Donald Trump promised Americans their insurance options would improve after he signs an executive order loosening restrictions on buying policies across state lines.
Trump's efforts with congressional Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act have floundered after analyses of the GOP replacement plans showed the number of Americans without insurance would increase by more than 20 million people, as compared to current law.
Critics, however, worry that the order may free these association health plans from several key Obamacare regulations and from state oversight, allowing them to sell plans with lower premiums but skimpier benefits.
Mr Trump said the White House was "starting the process" of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, in announcing the executive order at a news conference on Thursday.
Kennedy also raised concerns about the measure's potential impact on coverage for mental health and addiction issues, contending that it "hollows out existing behavioral health parity laws".
A White House official said that "employers participating in an association health plan can not exclude any employee from joining the plan and can not develop premiums based on health conditions" of individual employees.
The order also loosens restrictions on "short-term" health insurance plans that were created to offer temporary coverage for people who are between jobs, for example. Trump noted that one out of three counties in the United States have only one insurance option, which is essentially the same as having no choices at all. Crucially, these off-market plans would open the door for people with pre-existing health conditions to be charged higher rates.
Trump's initiative is supported by business groups that see association health plans as a possible way to provide more affordable health insurance to their members.
Association health plans "cherry-pick health groups", making it more hard for less healthy groups to find affordable coverage, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners told Congress this year.
Trump's order will allow small businesses to band together and join their own, unregulated insurance plans that can offer less coverage at cheaper prices.
"President Trump has repeatedly said he wants everyone to have health insurance at lower costs".
Association health plans, which are usually sponsored by trade organizations or interest groups, already exist.
But they are generally exempt from the requirements to provide a specified package of benefits and to cover a certain percentage of the cost of covered services.
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