Trump signs executive order to relax health insurance requirements for groups of small businesses

Health Law

President Donald Trump/

President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that orders federal agencies to consider rules that expand the ability of small businesses and groups to band together to offer health care coverage that is not subject to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

The “association health plans” offered by these businesses can avoid rules in the ACA that require health insurance to provide coverage for things such as maternity care, mental health services and prescription drugs, BuzzFeed News reports. The change would allow businesses to band together across state lines to create plans through a broader interpretation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, according to a White House press release and the New York Times.

The association plans would also be able to avoid limits on yearly and lifetime costs for consumers, the Washington Post reports.

It is not clear if the rewritten rules will allow people who are not employed by businesses that band together to buy health insurance through their plans, CNBC reports. If outsiders are allowed to buy insurance through the plans that provide less coverage, it could reduce the number of healthy people buying insurance on the exchanges, leading to price hikes.

Trump’s order also tells federal agencies to change rules for short-term insurance plans that had capped coverage at three months, a restriction designed to avoid people using the plans as a loophole to avoid ACA requirements. Such policies were intended to be used for people between jobs or youths who are no longer allowed to participate in their parents’ health plans. Trump’s order expands the cap to one year.

Trump’s order requires rulemaking that won’t be completed in time for open enrollment that begins Nov. 1.

Trump said his order is one of the first steps “to providing millions of Americans with Obamacare relief.”

“I just keep hearing ‘repeal and replace, repeal and replace.’ Well, we’re starting that process,” Trump said.

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