On Thursday, President Donald Trump took matters into his own hands and issued an executive order designed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act by allowing low-cost plans with very limited coverage to enter the insurance markets.
The president is asking federal agencies to find ways to expand so-called plan options, particularly by redefining “short-term insurance,” which is exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s rules on pre-existing conditions, in order to allow the new Trumpcare plans to offer lower premiums because they cover a lot less.
Trump claims his EO will bring affordable health insurance to millions more people but his administration still has to come up with the actual policies that will increase competition and choice in order to lower prices.
The Labor Department is also looking at ways to make it easier for small businesses to join together to buy health insurance through nationwide association health plans, a senior administration official.
According to CNN, “the department could give employers in the same industries more flexibility to offer group coverage across state lines, providing them with a broader range of policies at lower rates.”
Policy experts are not so optimistic and have suggested that allowing people to buy plans outside the ACA’s insurance markets—i.e., plans free from ACA regulations and from state oversight—would pose a serious threat to Obamacare precisely because customers who chose to be covered by ACA plans would predictably face higher premiums and fewer plan options due to a decrease in the number of insurers.
“The clear intent of the executive order is to create a parallel insurance market exempt from many of the consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act,” Larry Levitt at the Kaiser Family Foundation told Vox’s Dylan Scott.
Although Congress has yet to repeal the ACA, the president still has the power to undermine its mandate, and Trump’s latest executive order looks to do just that.