Trump wields powers to undo Obamacare
President outmanoeuvres Congress to fulfil flagship campaign pledge and hints at further executive orders
DONALD TRUMP last night used special presidential powers to begin dismantling Obamacare as he sought to circumvent Congress to deliver his campaign promises.
The US president signed an executive order expanding types of healthcare provision in a move that he said would help create “staggering” competition between providers and drive down costs for “millions” of Americans.
And he hinted at more direct action from the Oval Office in the future, dubbing Barack Obama’s healthcare legislation a “nightmare” that was having an “outrageous” impact on the country.
The intervention is the latest attempt by Mr Trump to deliver his flagship campaign promise to “repeal and replace Obamacare”.
He had tasked Republicans in Congress with overturning the law but the drive collapsed earlier this year after it failed to gain enough support, leaving Mr Trump seething.
Speaking in the White House, Mr Trump said: “The cost of the Obamacare has been so outrageous, it is absolutely destroying everything in its wake.”
One drive is aimed at making it easier for small businesses to form associations across state boundaries. Such groups do not have to comply with as many Obamacare rules.
Another aims at lifting a threemonth limit on short-term health insurance plans, which are cheaper but provide less comprehensive cover.
Mr Trump said the move would help bring down insurance premiums that have “skyrocketed” since Mr Obama’s legislation was enacted.
However, critics said it could have the opposite effect, encouraging young Americans to switch from traditional plans – thereby driving up costs for those that remain.
Mr Trump said the executive order was “only the beginning”, suggesting he may again use his presidential powers to further chip away at Obamacare.
He also reissued a demand for Congress to repeal the legislation, saying that he would “pressure” legislators “very strongly” to deliver his campaign pledge.
The intervention came just days before Mr Trump is expected to make another major decision on whether to certify the Iran nuclear deal. The president has until Sunday to take a stance, with Theresa May and other world leaders personally appealing for him to stick with the agreement.
John Kelly, Mr Trump’s chief of staff, last night made a surprise public appearance to quash rumours he was growing frustrated in the role.
“I’m not quitting, I’m not getting fired,” Mr Kelly said as he revealed his anger at press reports about his mood.
Mr Kelly is the second senior figure in Mr Trump’s administration in as many weeks to deny they may quit, following a similar statement from Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State.
Asked what most frustrated Mr Trump in office, Mr Kelly named the media and Congress, which has failed to pass any legislation this year.