Oct. 12 (UPI) — President Donald Trump is set to bypass Congress and directly address the Affordable Care Act Thursday with an executive order to overhaul certain regulations in the 7-year-old law.
After months of dealing with Congress’ failure to repeal and replace the ACA, Trump will sign an order aimed at easing rules on small businesses joining together to buy health insurance known as association plans, Politico reported, citing officials with knowledge of the plans.
Trump will sign the order — designed to “promote healthcare choice and competition” — at 11:15 a.m. EDT, the White House said.
The order is expected to place limits on short-term health insurance plans and encourage cheaper and more loosely regulated health plans aimed at younger, healthier people. By allowing healthier people to seek coverage elsewhere, experts worry that could leave less healthy participants on the hook for the difference.
One of the primary concerns among Democratic and GOP lawmakers is stabilizing the insurance marketplace, which has declined in recent years since the ACA was introduced as more providers have opted out. If healthier people switch to less expensive non-ACA plans by way of Trump’s overhaul, sicker people would likely have to pay more to replace them.
Sources said the Trump administration might also go so far as to reimagine the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by reinterpreting a workplace rule to broaden the types of groups that can qualify as associations.
The new association definition could cover small businesses, trade groups, unions and self-employed individuals. Under such a change, associations would not have to meet ACA benefit requirements or cover a minimum percentage of employee healthcare costs.
With associations, health care providers can effectively choose the most desirable participants, allowing the healthy to make the switch to save money — and potentially shutting out the less healthy.
“No one healthy is now going to sign up in the ACA risk pool, because they have this cheaper option,” Deep Banerjee, a health care analyst at S&P Global Ratings said.
The Hill reported that Sen. Rand Paul is expected to be in attendance at the unveiling of the executive order on Thursday. For months, he has pushed a presidential order — arguing that allowing small businesses to band together to buy insurance gives them leverage to lower premiums.