Exec or­der chips away at O’Care

New York Post - - NEWS - By BOB FRED­ER­ICKS With Wires

Pres­i­dent Trump on Thurs­day signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der that he said will pro­vide mil­lions of Amer­i­cans with “great, great health care” by in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion and ex­pand­ing the avail­abil­ity of low-cost cov­er­age.

Trump said the or­der will al­low small busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als to team up and form “as­so­ci­a­tions” that could pur­chase po­ten­tially less ex­pen­sive poli­cies across state lines.

“Since I be­came pres­i­dent, I just keep hear­ing ‘re­peal and re­place, re­peal, re­place.’ Well, we’re start­ing that process. And we’re start­ing it in a very pos­i­tive man­ner,” Trump said at the White House, call­ing Oba­maCare “a night­mare.”

Trump has long ar­gued that in­ter­state com­pe­ti­tion would lead to lower pre­mi­ums — al- though ex­perts warn it could hike pre­mi­ums for older Amer­i­cans and those with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions.

The or­der also calls for the ex­pan­sion of Health Re­im­burse­ment Ar­range­ments, where em­ploy­ees can use pre-tax dol­lars to­ward health-care ex­penses like de­ductibles and pre­scrip­tions.

And it ex­pands the avail­abil­ity of short-term in­sur­ance poli­cies, which of­fer fewer ben­e­fits and are meant as a bridge for peo­ple between jobs, or young peo­ple no longer el­i­gi­ble for cov­er­age un­der their par­ents’ health plans.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ruled that short-term in­sur­ance could last only three months. Trump wants to ex­tend that to nearly a year.

The new, bare-bones poli­cies would also not have to pro­vide the 10 “es­sen­tial health ben­e­fits” cov­ered un­der Oba­maCare, in­clud­ing ma­ter­nity care, emer­gency-room vis­its and men­tal­health treat­ment.

But peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions would be el­i­gi­ble to pur­chase as­so­ci­a­tion poli­cies, though prices could vary.

Ex­perts said it’s not clear if those re­ceiv­ing sub­si­dies to cover pre­mi­ums un­der Oba­maCare would still be el­i­gi­ble for them un­der the new plans.

Trump’s move is sure to en­counter op­po­si­tion from Democrats, med­i­cal as­so­ci­a­tions, con­sumer groups and even in­sur­ers — the same coali­tion that lob­bied the GOP-con­trolled Con­gress against ear­lier re­peal and re­place ef­forts.

Sen­ate Demo­cratic leader Charles Schumer said Trump was “us­ing a wreck­ing ball to sin­gle-hand­edly rip apart our health-care sys­tem.”

It was un­clear when the plans will be­come avail­able, but it’s un­likely con­sumers could sign up dur­ing the 2018 open-en­roll­ment pe­riod, which be­gins Nov. 1. Ex­perts said it could take at least six months.

MEDICINE MAN: Pres­i­dent Trump feels bet­ter Thurs­day af­ter sign­ing an ex­ec­u­tive or­der that strips away some Oba­maCare reg­u­la­tions.


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