PA­TIENCE GONE

Trump’s health care end run is a re­flec­tion of frus­tra­tions

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE - BY RI­CARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR

WASH­ING­TON — Frus­trated over set­backs in Con­gress, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump wielded his rule-mak­ing power Thurs­day to launch an end run that might get him closer to his goal of re­peal­ing and re­plac­ing “Oba­macare.”

Whether Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der will be the play that breaks through isn’t clear.

Ex­perts say con­sumers aren’t likely to see ma­jor changes any time soon, although the White House is promis­ing lower costs and more op­tions.

Some ex­perts war ned that hard­won pro­tec­tions for older adults and peo­ple in poor health could be un­der­mined by the skinny lower-pre­mium plans that Trump or­dered fed­eral agen­cies to fa­cil­i­tate.

Oth­ers say the pres­i­dent’s plans will have a mod­est im­pact, and might even help some con­sumers who don’t now ben­e­fit from fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance un­der the Obama-era law.

Peo­ple on dif­fer­ent side soft he po­lar­ized health care de­bate did agree that it will take months for the govern­ment bu­reau­cracy to turn Trump’s broad-brush goals into ac­tual poli­cies that af­fect mil­lions of peo­ple who buy their own health in­sur­ance poli­cies.

“To­day is only the be gin­ning,” Trump said at the Oval Of­fice sign­ing cer­e­mony. He promised new mea­sures in com­ing months, adding, “we’ re go­ing to also pres­sure Con­gress very strongly to fin­ish the re­peal and re­place of ‘Oba­macare’ once and for all.”

Democrats de­nounced Trump’s or­der as more “sab­o­tage” while Repub­li­cans called it “bold ac­tion” to help con­sumers. A ma­jor small busi­ness group praised the pres­i­dent, while doc­tors, in­sur­ers, and state reg­u­la­tors said they have con­cerns and are wait­ing to de­tails.

“We want to make sure that all the con­sumer pro­tec­tions are there and in­cluded,” said Michael Munger, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Academy of Fam­ily Physi­cians.

One of the main ideas from the ad­min­is­tra­tion in­volves eas­ing the way for groups of em­ploy­ers to spon­sor cov­er­age that can be mar­keted across the land. That re­flects Trump’s long­stand­ing be­lief that com­pe­ti­tion across state lines will lead to lower pre­mi­ums.

Those “as­so­ci­a­tion health plans” could be shielded from some state and fed­eral in­sur­ance re­quire­ments. Re­spond­ing to con­cerns, the White House said par­tic­i­pat­ing em­ploy­ers could not ex­clude any work­ers from the plan, or charge more to those in poor health.

EVAN VUCCI / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump shows an ex­ec­u­tive or­der on health care that he signed in the Roo­sevelt Room of the White House on Thurs­day in Wash­ing­ton.

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