UPDATE 8-Frustrated by Congress, Trump signs order to weaken Obamacare

From Reuters - October 12, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an order to make it easier for Americans to buy bare-bones health insurance plans, using his presidential powers to undermine Obamacare after fellow Republicans in Congress failed to repeal the 2010 law.

Trump issued the executive order aimed at letting small businesses band together across state lines to buy cheaper, less regulated health plans for their employees with fewer benefits. Such new insurance options, however, may not be available until 2019, and the order could face legal challenges from Democratic state attorneys general.

It was Trumps most concrete step to undo Obamacare since he took office in January promising to dismantle Democratic former President Barack Obamas signature domestic policy achievement.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of using a wrecking ball to single-handedly rip apart our healthcare system.

Later on Thursday, Politico reported that Trump plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage, citing two people familiar with the matter.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to stop the payments, which are made directly to insurance companies to help cover out-of-pocket medical expenses for low-income Americans enrolled in individual healthcare plans under Obamacare.

The payments are estimated at $7 billion in 2017.

If Trump does eliminate the subsidy payments, premiums for many customers on the Obamacare individual insurance markets would be 20 percent higher in 2018, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Republicans call Obamacare, which extended health insurance to 20 million people, a government intrusion into Americans healthcare, and have been promising for seven years to scrap it.

Trumps order aims to give people more access to cheaper plans, which do not cover essential health benefits such as maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, and mental health and addiction treatment.

Obamacare, known formally as the Affordable Care Act, requires most small business and individual health plans to cover those benefits.


The cost of the Obamacare has been so outrageous, it is absolutely destroying everything in its wake, Trump said at a White House signing ceremony.

Trumps order was aimed at making it easier for small businesses to join together as associations across state lines.

Unlike large employers that can create their own health plans because their work forces are big enough to spread risk - mitigating the effect of individuals with serious illnesses - small employers have few options to offer reasonably priced health coverage.


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