President Donald Trump will sign an executive order today paving the way for his administration to ease restrictions on the purchase of health insurance plans.
Trump will move to allow consumers to buy short-term health care plans that last as long as a year and can be renewed. He's also directing the Department of Labor to give small businesses permission to band together to buy better health plans for their employees.
The order will reportedly specify that small businesses in the same state, the same 'line of business,' or same trade association should be able to buy in to a plan together.
But it is up to the Labor Department to make the final decision, and only after the standard regulatory review period, meaning it will take months for the changes to go into effect, assuming that they do.
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President Donald Trump will sign an executive order today easing restrictions on the purchase of health insurance plans
Trump will allow consumers to buy short-term health care plans that last as long as a year and can be renewed. He will also give small businesses permission to band together to buy better health plans for their employees
Those plans are generally required to include 10 health benefits that are deemed essential that include maternity and newborn care, prescription drug coverage, mental health treatment and addiction services.
It is unclear whether individuals will be able to join the association plans.
They will have more opportunities to purchase short-term plans that are less costly because they provide fewer benefits, though, reports have said. Trump will lengthen the amount of time for coverage under these terms from three months to 12.
Trump promised yesterday that his executive order would allow consumers to purchase 'incredible' health insurance plans.
'We're going to have great healthcare across state lines...It will cost the government nothing,' he said in an interview on Fox with Sean Hannity. 'You'll go out, private insurers are going to give you incredible healthcare.
'And I can sign it myself, I don't need anybody,' the president said.
In the interview, conducted yesterday afternoon in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the president claimed his order will help as many as 50 percent of the people who have struggled under Obamacare.
'I don't know, people say 30 percent, some people say 25 percent and some people say it could be 50 percent. It's going to cover a large percentage of the people that we're talking about,' Trump asserted.
Trump is taking the executive action to assist consumers who live in states where Obamacare has either gone belly up or premiums skyrocketed.
'They'll be able to cross state lines. And they will get great competitive healthcare, and it will cost the United States nothing,' Trump told reporters on Tuesday morning. 'Take care of a big percentage of the people that we're talking about, too,' he said.
He said then that he was taking unilateral action because repeal and replace stalled in the Senate.
'With Congress the way it is, I decided to take it upon myself,' Trump declared. 'So we'll be announcing that soon, as far as the singing is concerned, but it's largely worked out.'
The move is sure to be challenged by Democrats. Just as Republicans sued Barack Obama's administration for executive overreach in Obamacare, Democrats are likely to challenge the current administration for working to undercut the federal health law.
'They'll be able to cross state lines. And they will get great competitive healthcare, and it will cost the United States nothing,' Trump told reporters on Tuesday morning. 'Take care of a big percentage of the people that we're talking about, too,' he said
Republican lawmakers like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have long plugged the plan as a way to increase consumer choice and lower costs. They wanted to include it in repeal and replace legislation, but that would have run afoul of the Senate rule they were relying on as a vehicle for their proposed reforms.
Trump said he last month that he may loosen a restriction on where insurance plans can be sold through fiat. He previewed the move again in a Tuesday morning tweet that said, 'Since Congress can't get its act together on HealthCare, I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people - FAST'.
Paul said weeks ago, on the heels of the Senate's last Obamacare repeal failure, that Trump would be taking action in the near term.
'I think there's going to be big news from the White House in the next week or two, something they can do on their own,' he told MSNBC in a Sept. 27 interview.
The Kentucky Republican added, 'I believe that President Trump can legalize on his own the ability of individuals to join a group or a health association across state lines and buy insurance.'
That same day Trump affirmed his interest in an executive action that encompasses Paul's proposal.
The president told reporters, 'I am considering an executive order on associations and that will take care of a tremendous number of people with regard to healthcare, and I'll probably be signing a very major executive order where people can go out, cross state lines, do lots of things and buy their own healthcare.'
Trump has long said that he would sign an order freeing up consumers to purchase health care from providers outside the state they reside in. It was billed as part two of his administration's three-step Obamacare repeal plan.
Trump confirmed his intention to sign the measure easing health insurance regulations at the top of a meeting with Henry Kissinger, a secretary of state to two previous presidents, on Tuesday
The administration argued earlier this year that it could not ease regulations like this one until the House and Senate passed Obamacare repeal.
Procedural rules in the Senate prevented the measure from being inserted directly into a healthcare bill because lawmakers were relying on a process called reconciliation that applies only to budgetary items.
Through reconciliation, the GOP could use its simple majority to pass a repeal bill. The party was ultimately unable to swing enough senators its way before an end-of-September deadline.
As lawmakers like Paul argued that the measure should be in the GOP's legislation, regardless of the rules, Trump said in a tweet, 'Don’t worry, getting rid of state lines … will be in phase 2 & 3 of healthcare rollout.'
The executive order Trump will sign today may help him win over lawmakers like Paul who will make or break a future health reform vote.
'I think Rand will be there for us,' Trump recently told reporters.
Trump envisions a new vote to repeal and replace Obamacare at the beginning of next year. Vice President Mike Pence has promised reforms by the end of next year.
The president has said that he's talking to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer about a short-term fix to Obamacare, also.
'We're going to have to do something with Obamacare because it's failing,' Trump said Tuesday. 'And it's actually getting worse; it's getting worse by the minute. So we're going to have to do something with Obamacare and that will work out.'