Trump Signs Order to 'Ease the Burden of Obamacare'

Alicia Ault

January 20, 2017

Soon after he was sworn in today, President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders, including one to "ease the burden" of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to news reports.

The executive order was not yet on the White House website as of press time. But in a version posted on Twitter, the order first notes the President's intention to seek the "prompt repeal" of the ACA, and says that in the meantime, it was seeking to offer flexibility to states to create a more "free and open healthcare market."

The order grants authority to the heads of all federal agencies, including the Secretary of Health and Human Services to "waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a financial burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications."

What this means in practical terms is unclear.

"This order doesn't in and of itself do anything tangible," Larry Levitt, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Vox. "But it directs federal agencies to start taking steps to use their administrative authority to unwind the ACA in all sorts of ways. This is a signal that the Trump administration is not waiting for Congress to start making big changes."

The executive order also directs federal agencies to grant states maximum flexibility in implementing "healthcare programs," and to encourage the development of "a free and open market in interstate commerce for the offering of healthcare services and healthcare insurance with the goal of achieving and preserving maximum options for patients and consumers."

During the campaign, President Trump said that he wanted to make it possible for insurers to sell policies across state lines.

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