Foiled in Congress, Trump moves on his own to relax Obamacare standards

President Donald Trump is expected to issue an order Thursday to allow the sale of health-insurance plans that are exempt from some Affordable Care Act rules.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, after failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress, will act on his own to relax health-care standards on small businesses that band together to buy health insurance and may take steps to allow the sale of other health plans that skirt the health law’s requirements.

An executive order is expected Thursday, when the president is to host small-business owners at the White House.

Although Trump has been telegraphing his intentions for more than a week, Democrats and some state regulators are greeting the move with increasing alarm, calling it another attempt to undermine President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law. They warn that by relaxing standards for so-called association health plans, Trump would create low-cost insurance options for the healthy, driving up costs for the sick and destabilizing insurance marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act.

“It would have a very negative impact on the markets,” said Mike Kreidler, the Washington state insurance commissioner. “Our state is a poster child of what can go wrong. Association health plans often shun the bad risks and stay with the good risks.”

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Critics also worry that the Trump administration intends to loosen restrictions on short-term health-insurance plans that do not satisfy requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

“By siphoning off healthy individuals, these junk plans could cannibalize the insurance exchanges,” said Topher Spiro, a vice president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal research and advocacy group. “For older, sicker people left behind in plans regulated under the Affordable Care Act, premiums could increase.”

To business groups, the executive…

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