Trump starts roll-back of Obamacare, issues executive order

news
21 January 2017

The first thing that President Donald Trump did after he entered the Oval Office of the White House on Friday night was the signing of an executive order aimed at undoing the Obama Administration showpiece `Affordable Care Act', popularly known as `Obamacare'.

While the executive order does not change the law, it sets direction on how the administration will interpret and implement it.

Trump signed the order, aimed at trying to fulfill one of his most impassioned campaign promises, before going to the inaugural balls.

"Many of the changes envisioned in this order will take time to implement, but it signals a clear direction."

While President Trump's order states that the official policy is ''to seek the prompt repeal'' of the Affordable Care Act, even as it emphasises that the new administration must continue to uphold the law.

However, the multi-part executive order directs government agencies that implement or enforce the 'Obamacare' law to grant waivers, deferments, exemptions and delays in order to minimise or eliminate any costs associated with implementing Obama's signature medicare legislation.

Trump's top priority in the Oval Office will be dismantling the health care law that covers some 20 million Americans. While the executive order does not change the law, it could have a significant impact nonetheless.

It directs the secretary of health and human services, as well as other agencies, to interpret regulations as loosely as allowed to minimise the financial burden on individuals, insurers, health care providers and others.

It stressed that agencies can "waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay implementation of any provision or requirement" of Obamacare that imposes a burden "to the maximum extent permitted by law."

The Obamacare legislation makes it mandatory for all individuals to get insured and prescribes penalty for non-compliance, the Trump order could loosen the criteria for qualifying for a hardship exemption. That way, fewer people would have to pay the penalty, which would be in line with the executive order and the call to provide relief to Americans suffering from the Obamacare's high costs.

"This will set the gears of the bureaucracy moving in a very different direction," said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. "Many of the changes envisioned in this order will take time to implement, but it signals a clear direction."

The order also seeks to give states more flexibility and control over their health care markets and to allow insurers to offer policies across state lines.

All of these actions will start to shift the nation's health care rules toward Republican ideas. And it will allow the Trump administration to chip away at the law going forward.





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