Trump says health care order will help millions

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"President Trump is doing what I believe is the biggest free-market reform of health care in a generation", Paul said during a signing ceremony in the White House Roosevelt Room.

He called the order the "first steps to providing millions of Americans with Obamacare relief".

"This executive order gives victims of Obamacare greater control of their health care options and works to create a more affordable system", she said in a statement.

-Allowing employers to set aside pre-tax dollars so workers can use the money to buy an individual health policy.

President Donald Trump promised Americans their insurance options would improve after he signs an executive order loosening restrictions on buying policies across state lines. He said that these changes are aimed at creating lower prices and increasing competition, and that insurance companies would be "fighting" to lower prices to get more people signed up.

The order resulted from Trump's frustration with his inability to persuade a Republican-controlled Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a pillar of President Barack Obama's legacy.

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Neal, the top Democrat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, blasted the so-called Association Health Plans Executive Order as "more of the same sabotage and undermining that we have come to expect from President Trump and congressional Republicans on health care". The administration said that employers participating in these plans would not be allowed to exclude employees or develop premiums based on health conditions. But association health plan policies would likely provide skimpier coverage since they would not have to adhere to all of Obamacare's protections. Trump noted that one out of three counties in the United States have only one insurance option, which is essentially the same as having no choices at all.

But short-term policies can limit benefits and charge higher premiums to people who have expensive medical conditions, a type of discrimination banned in policies regulated under the Affordable Care Act. These include the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and the National Restaurant Association.

Association health plans "cherry-pick health groups", making it more hard for less healthy groups to find affordable coverage, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners told Congress this year. Specifically, the order directs federal agencies to relax rules on coverage (see an explainer here). Obamacare rules would not apply to these plans, meaning they can drop coverage for things like maternity care, mental health services and prescription drugs.

Health experts told BuzzFeed News that Paul's broader plan was akin to "repealing the ACA without Congress".

But consumer groups and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, representing state officials, have opposed association health plans because they could be largely exempt from state regulation. The Obama administration said that coverage offered to dozens or hundreds of small businesses through a trade or professional association would not be treated as a single large employer health plan for the goal of insurance regulation. Precise details of the measure aren't yet known, but Trump has previously previewed unilateral action that would make it easier for small businesses to buy coverage by joining together. Instead, the nationwide plans would be subject to the same federal oversight as large-employer policies.

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