WASHINGTON — Just hours after his inauguration, President Donald Trump enabled a federal agency to pull back on critical provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Trump signed an executive order on Friday pressing government departments to “change, delay or waive provisions of the law that they deemed overly costly for insurers, drug makers, doctors, patients or states, according to the New York Times. The move will essentially allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to begin unraveling the law before Congress can repeal it.
Rep. Ralph Abraham, MD, (R-La.) told MedPage Today in a phone interview on Friday that Trump was “going to work, right after he finishes lunch,” although he did not specify if orders related to the ACA would be enacted.
The order outlines its aim “to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the [Affordable Care] Act, and prepare to afford the States more flexibility and control to create a more free and open healthcare market,” according to CNN. This includes the potential weakening of the “individual mandate,” which requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
Abraham noted that Rep. Tom Price, MD, (R-Ga.), currently Trump’s nominee for HHS secretary, would have the authority to change and undo many key regulations.
Asked whether such changes could hurt patients if a replacement plan has not been implemented, Abraham said he was optimistic. “[Price is] a very logical, measured man. He will make decision that are best for the patient,” he stated.
In a press release, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, stated that “President Trump is right to make the urgent work of rescuing Americans trapped in a collapsing Obamacare system a top priority on his first day in office.”
Alexander noted that he was looking forward to repealing the law but also to “replacing it simultaneously with concrete, practical reforms that give Americans access to truly affordable health care.”