Trump wields pow­ers to undo Oba­macare

Pres­i­dent out­ma­noeu­vres Congress to ful­fil flag­ship cam­paign pledge and hints at fur­ther ex­ec­u­tive or­ders

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By Ben Ri­ley-smith US ED­I­TOR

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.

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