DR. DON’S RX
Exec order chips away at O’Care
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.