Having long promised to undo immediately as much of ObamaCare as he can by executive order, President Trump kept his word.  Mere hours after his swearing in, Trump signed a flurry of documents, including his first EO on ObamaCare.

Because ObamaCare is, as the left is so fond of saying, “the law of the land,” Trump can only do so much to undo ObamaCare via EO. That “only so much,” however, is quite considerable given the overreach of his predecessor.

A key section of this EO deals with this relief:

Sec. 2. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) and the heads of all other executive departments and agencies (agencies) with authorities and responsibilities under the Act shall exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.

You can read the full text of this EO here.

Watch the report:

The relief offered here may result in a flurry of waivers for the individual mandate.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The broadly written health-care order appears to lay the groundwork for waiving or minimizing the penalty for Americans who don’t buy health insurance, which would essentially void the requirement altogether. That would cause problems for insurers, who worry their healthiest customers would forgo the coverage, leaving only sick patients who are the most expensive to cover.

Already, insurance companies in a number of states worry that their markets are in shaky condition, and anything that drains healthy customers could be a fatal blow to the individual insurance markets, including the health-care exchanges where people can shop for subsidized coverage.

. . . . “It’s a wide-ranging order that could have major ramifications for the ACA,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at Kaiser Family Foundation. “It suggests that broad waivers could be granted exempting people from the individual mandate penalty, which could create chaos in the individual insurance market.”

Waivers may also be granted to employers who are currently required by ObamaCare to provide health insurance and to insurers who, if waived, could write policies that did not meet ObamaCare’s coverage requirements (and to consumers who would not be penalized for failing to meet them).

The Wall Street Journal continues:

The order also directs agencies to give states as much flexibility as possible in implementing the law. Under the Obama administration, states negotiated for flexibility and won some accommodations. It is clear they will have an easier path under Mr. Trump.

Waivers could allow states to end the requirement most employers provide health insurance or to loosen requirements that insurers provide certain mandated benefits.

It also directs that agencies involved with health care “encourage the development of a free and open market in interstate commerce” regarding health care. It said the goal is to achieve “maximum options for patients and consumers” but doesn’t lay out any specifics.

These potential outcomes are in-line with what the nation’s governors—both Republican and Democrat—have told House GOP leadership:  the federal government should not be so involved in the minutiae of health insurance public policy.

The New York Times reports:

House Republican leaders recently asked governors for recommendations on health policy, and governors from both parties said the federal government should scale back its regulation of health insurance.

Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, a Republican, said this month that federal officials should “reconsider the premise that health insurance public policy should be directed from Washington.” He said that federal rules for setting insurance rates and defining “essential health benefits” should be more flexible.

This executive order empowers the executive agencies to affect the change that Trump has in mind; it doesn’t actually do a great deal on its own.

ObamaCare cheerleaders are saying the same thing they’ve said all along . . . excepting when it was ObamaCare disrupting people’s health insurance coverage and restricting access.  Because Obama kicked down the road the most onerous ObamaCare requirements, we have not yet seen (and hopefully will never see) the projected 20 million people who are going to lose their health insurance should the full law go into effect.

The Washington Post reports:

Trump’s action drew swift protests from ACA proponents who have coalesced to try to preserve the law. “While President Trump may have promised a smooth transition” from the current law to a replacement, said Leslie Dach, director of the fledging Protect Our Care Coalition, “the executive order does the opposite, threatening disruption for health providers and patients.”

It’s not yet clear how the various executive agencies will interpret this EO and what (if any) form these changes will take, but it is a very clear signal that things are about to change.


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