President going it alone after Congress fails to repeal
WASHINGTON – Barack Obama once famously quipped, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” as he explained his willingness to take executive action if Congress was unwilling to go along.
Apparently his successor now is using his own pen.
After months of battling with the GOP-led House over repealing Obamacare, President Trump plans to reform parts of the Affordable Care Act unilaterally with executive action.
Since Congress can’t get its act together on HealthCare, I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people – FAST
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2017
The president said he would use the “power of the pen” through an executive order that would allow community organizations and trade associations to offer their own health-insurance plans and let individuals shop for plans across state lines.
The order would direct the Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services Departments to reinterpret alternative offerings, with the aim of expanding coverage options for consumers.
“I will be signing something probably this week which is going to go a long way to take care of people that have been so badly hurt on health care,” the president said from the White House Tuesday, where he was meeting with former secretary of state Henry Kissinger.
“They will be able to buy, they’ll be able to cross state lines and they will get great competitive health care and it will cost the United States nothing,” Trump said. “With Congress the way it is, I decided to take it upon myself.”
While the Obama administration limited the length of short-term insurance policies to three months, the Trump administration reportedly intends to extend the length of those policies by restoring insurers’ capacity to sell short-term policies that allow up to a year of coverage.
The president is expected to sign the directive Thursday.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has long supported association health plans, contends the president’s plan will lower insurance costs and provide people more options.
Paul said Tuesday he has been working with Trump for months to design a health-care executive order.
“This will be a great plan & a big deal for millions of Americans. I’ve been working with @realDonaldTrump for months on this,” Paul wrote on Twitter. “Details soon!”
Last week, Trump signed an executive order that eliminated the requirement that employers provide birth-control coverage, arguing it would protect Americans’ religious freedom.
The pressure to repeal the Affordable Care Act is likely to mount ahead of 2018, when voters will measure whether the GOP has kept it’s campaign promises.
GOP lawmakers have for seven years pledged to voters that Obamacare would be repealed if they are elected. But their repeal efforts have failed repeatedly this year.
Senate Republicans had until Sept. 30 to pass the House’s Obamacare proposal without Democratic support and failed. Now any measure repealing the health care law requires Democratic votes and faces a Democratic filibuster.
Some Republicans fear Obamacare may never be repealed after multiple attempts.
“Personally, I don’t see it,” Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said. “I just don’t know how you can reconcile a bill you’ve taken two whiffs at already and couldn’t get the votes.
“I’m one guy out of 535,” he said. “I’ve done all I can do, and so has everyone in” the House.
“I’d like to do it on the third try. I can’t guarantee it,” said Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. “But I can guarantee this: There will be a fourth try and a fifth try and a sixth try and a seventh try.”
If Republicans try for Obamacare repeal again in 2018, the House would again have to go first on a bill passed under the fast-track reconciliation process, only to risk being hung out to dry again by the Senate.
Trump insisted in a Forbes interview published Tuesday that his predecessor is to blame for the “total mess” of the health-care system, not the GOP.
“Obamacare is Obama’s fault. It’s never going to be our fault,” Trump said. “What we’re doing is trying to keep it afloat, because it’s failing. I mean the insurance companies are fleeing and have fled. They fled before I got here. But with that being said, no, Obamacare is Obama’s fault. It’s nobody else’s fault.”