Trump’s first steps to un­wind Oba­macare

The Australian - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON: Don­ald Trump is ex­pected to sign an ex­ec­u­tive or­der to­day to ini­ti­ate the un­wind­ing of the Af­ford­able Care Act, paving the way for sweep­ing changes to Barack Obama’s sig­na­ture health­care re­forms by in­struct­ing agen­cies to al­low the sale of less com­pre­hen­sive health plans to ex­pand.

The US Pres­i­dent, us­ing his au­thor­ity to ac­com­plish some of the goals Repub­li­cans failed to achieve with their stalled con­gres­sional health­care over­haul, will direct fed­eral agen­cies to take ac­tions aimed at pro­vid­ing low­er­cost op­tions and fos­ter­ing com­pe­ti­tion in the in­di­vid­ual in­sur­ance mar­kets, two se­nior White House of­fi­cials said.

By boost­ing al­ter­na­tive in­sur­ance ar­range­ments that would be ex­empt from some key ACA rules, the change would of­fer more op­tions for con­sumers.

How­ever, health-in­sur­ance ex­perts say the changes could raise costs for sicker peo­ple by draw­ing health­ier, younger con­sumers to these al­ter­na­tive plans, which could be less ex­pen­sive and of­fer fewer ben­e­fits.

The or­der will aim to ex­pand ac­cess to plans that al­low small busi­nesses and pos­si­bly in­di­vid­u­als band to­gether to buy in­sur­ance. It will also lift lim­its on the sale of short-term in­sur­ance, which pro­vides limited cov­er­age that of­ten ap­peals to health­ier peo­ple. And it will seek to ex­pand the ways in which work­ers can use em­ployer-funded ac­counts to buy their own in­sur­ance poli­cies.

But the in­struc­tions will amount to a re­ver­sal of the broad ap­proach of the Obama leg­is­la­tion, which seeks to guar­an­tee in­sur­ance poli­cies of­fer a min­i­mum level of ben­e­fits to all con­sumers re­gard­less of their med­i­cal his­tory.

Mr Trump and other Repub­li­cans ar­gue such rules must be re­laxed to bring down pre­mi­ums, es­pe­cially for health­ier peo­ple who have seen costs rise.

The ACA, also known as Oba­macare, made sweep­ing changes to health-in­sur­ance pric­ing that made in­sur­ance ac­ces­si­ble for lower in­come and sicker Amer­i­cans, but also re­sulted in mar­ket tur­bu­lence and higher pre­mi­ums, in par­tic­u­lar for health­ier and mid­dle-in­come peo­ple.

Repub­li­cans’ ef­forts to re­peal the ACA col­lapsed in congress last month, and Mr Trump was openly dis­pleased at GOP lead­ers’ fail­ure.

The move on Oba­macare came as Mr Trump aso sug­gested he would chal­lenge li­cences for broad­cast news net­works, fol­low­ing re­ports by NBC News that US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son had called the Pres­i­dent a “mo­ron”.

“With all of the fake news com­ing out of NBC and the net­works, at what point is it ap­pro­pri­ate to chal­lenge their li­cence? Bad for coun­try!” Mr Trump tweeted.

Mr Trump and his sup­port­ers have re­peat­edly used the term “fake news” to cast doubt on me­dia re­ports crit­i­cal of his ad­min­is­tra­tion, of­ten with no ev­i­dence to sup­port such claims.

Mr Trump kept up his crit­i­cism of the me­dia in an ap­pear­ance with Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, say­ing: “It is frankly dis­gust­ing the press is able to write what­ever it wants to write.”

In a tweet later, Mr Trump said: “Net­work news has be­come so par­ti­san, dis­torted and fake that li­cences must be chal­lenged and, if ap­pro­pri­ate, re­voked. Not fair to public!”

NBC News has re­ported on ten­sions be­tween Mr Trump and Mr Tiller­son, and has said the Pres­i­dent sought a dra­matic in­crease in the US nu­clear ar­se­nal dur­ing a meet­ing with na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers in July. NBC said Mr Tiller­son made his “mo­ron” com­ment after that meet­ing.

Mr Trump also spent yes­ter­day pitch­ing his tax plan as a boost for truck­ers at an event in Penn­syl­va­nia, say­ing: “Amer­ica first means putting Amer­i­can truck­ers first.”

Mr Trump ap­peared be­fore about 1000 cheer­ing peo­ple at a plane hangar draped with US flags. Two big rigs were in the back­ground.

“It will be rocket fuel for our econ­omy,” Mr Trump said of a plan that would dra­mat­i­cally cut cor­po­rate tax rates from 35 per cent to 20 per cent, re­duce the num­ber of per­sonal in­come tax brack­ets and boost the stan­dard de­duc­tion.

Mr Trump said a cut to busi­ness taxes would help truck­ers be­cause there will be “more prod­ucts to de­liver and more con­tracts to fill”.

AFP

Don­ald and Me­la­nia Trump await the ar­rival of Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gre­goire at the White House yes­ter­day

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