Trump signs order to rewrite federal insurance rules; Louisiana impact uncertain

Frustrated by health care failures in Congress, President Donald Trump directed his administration today to rewrite some federal insurance rules in a new effort to undermine “Obamacare”—the program he’s promised to kill.

“With these actions, we are moving toward lower costs and more options in the health care market,” Trump said before signing his directive in the Oval Office. Trump added he’ll continue to pressure Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Some experts said the White House plan could undermine coverage on the ACA’s insurance marketplaces, particularly for people with health problems. That would happen if healthy people flock to lower-cost plans with limited benefits.

Other experts said Trump’s proposals appear to be modest and would have limited impact.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana says in a statement it’s currently studying the executive order and decline to comment on the plan’s potential impact on Louisiana.

“As these Executive Orders have just been released, we have not had time to thoroughly study them and assess their impact,” the company said. “Therefore, it would be premature for us to comment in detail at this time.”

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon could not be reached for comment prior to publication of today’s Daily Report PM.

One insurance executive told the online publication Axios, there is concern Trump’s order will give employers an incentive to stop offering traditional health benefits. Another fear, he said: Employers might be able to offer coverage to their younger employees, while using these new funds to shift older workers, who tend to have higher health care costs, into the individual market.

Consumers should not expect changes for next year, according to experts quoted by The Associated Press. But one the administration’s main goals is to allow for the marketing of coverage across state lines. Trump has long championed that interstate competition will lead to lower premiums for consumers and small businesses.

These “association health plans” could be shielded from some state and federal insurance requirements. But responding to concerns, the White House said participating employers could not exclude any workers from the plan, or charge more to those in poor health.

Other elements of the plan include easing current restrictions on short-term policies that last less than a year and allowing employers to set aside pre-tax dollars so workers can use the money to buy an individual health policy.

Read the full story from The Associated Press.

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