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Trump executive order first strike at ending at ‘Obamacare’

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Vice President Mike Pence watched as President Donald Trump prepared to sign his first executive order in the Oval Office of the White House.

WASHINGTON >> In an opening salvo against “Obamacare,” President Donald Trump signed an executive order tonight that appears aimed squarely at the undoing the health care law’s unpopular requirement that individuals carry insurance or face fines.

The order directs federal agencies to stop issuing regulations that would expand the law’s reach. And it directs them to grant waivers, exemptions and delays of provisions in the Affordable Care Act that would impose costs on states or individuals, potentially including the law’s penalties on people who remain uninsured — a key provision. The order also says federal agencies must allow states greater flexibility in carrying out the health care programs.

“It’s a sign that the Trump administration is looking to unwind the law in every way it can administratively,” said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan clearinghouse for information and analysis about the health care system.

It may take weeks or months to discern the full impact of Trump’s directive on “Obamacare.” Departments like Health and Human Services and Treasury will have to issue policies that embody the new president’s wishes.

One distinct possibility is for the government to find new ways to grant exemptions from the law’s unpopular requirement that people who remain uninsured pay fines, if deemed able to afford coverage. For example, GOP lawmakers in Congress have proposed an exemption for people in areas where only one insurer offers coverage — currently about a third of U.S. counties.

The executive order may not have much impact for 2017, since government rules for this year have already been incorporated into contracts signed with insurance companies.

But Levitt said broad exemptions from the law’s coverage requirement could scare off insurers already on the fence about continuing to participate in 2018 and beyond. Insurers see the law’s coverage requirement, or so-called individual mandate, as an essential tool to nudge healthy people into the coverage pool. Without it the companies and most independent experts believe premiums would spike, making HealthCare.gov’s insurance markets unsustainable.

“It would create a significant amount of uncertainty and affect insurers’ ability to participate for 2018,” Levitt said.

Trump made clear he is not unilaterally suspending the Affordable Care Act. It remains on the books, and his directive instructs agencies to act within “the maximum extent permitted by law.”

Changing the underlying law would require Congress to act, but the Trump administration can rewrite regulations carrying out the legislation. New regulations cannot be issued overnight, but would have to follow a legally established process that requires public notice and an opportunity for interested parties to comment on the administration’s changes.

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  • Thank you President Trump, you are the real deal and we are going to see that the good citizens of America deserve the best healthcare in the world. Obamadon’tcare was a gift to the corrupt Democrat Cronies and should never have happened. Real hope and change in action, not the fakery of the last eight years.

      • I wonder if Obamacare was paying for Chumps baby powder and numbzit. The biggest losers are going to be his base the undereducated. Only people that dum- can get their foot up their ass-s but have no clue how to reverse the process.

        • Answer? Eat a case of pork and beans. Also not to change the subject but I noticed that the happiest Melania looked all day was when she was dancing with the handsome young marine. No wonder she’s not moving into the White House.

        • DPK guess you don’t have an answer to my subject matter because you don’t refute it. You might be one of the smarter Chumpsters but even smart people fu-k up.

        • I’m addressing the Gomer Pyles, Barney Fifes and Archie Bunkers so if you don’t fall into these categories no need to reply. However if you did vote for him then you do fall into one of these categories whether you like it or not.

    • Amen! Obamadontcare was never a route to healthcare; it was a route to extortion. It never ensured health, but only punished disobedience (and economic logic for the well)… And they dare to call *us* fascists!?!

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