Trump to sign order circumventing Obamacare rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Thursday to make it easier for Americans to buy bare-bones health insurance plans and circumvent Obamacare rules, the White House said, but the action faces possible legal challenges.

Stymied in Congress by the failure of Senate Republicans to pass legislation to dismantle Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, Trump’s executive order marks his administration’s latest effort to undermine the 2010 law without action by lawmakers.

Trump was due to sign the order at a ceremony scheduled for 11:15 a.m. (1515 GMT).

“This is the beginning of the actions the administration will take to provide relief to Americans,” Andrew Bremberg, director of Trump’s Domestic Policy Council, told reporters.

Bremberg said Trump still hopes Congress will pass legislation repealing and replacing Obamacare, formally called the Affordable Care Act.

The order instructs the labor secretary to consider steps that would make it easier for small businesses to band together as associations across state lines to buy cheaper health plans that would be exempt from some Obamacare requirements.

Those requirements include the mandate that all health plans cover 10 essential health benefits, including maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, and mental health and addiction treatment.

The order also instructs the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury to change an Obama-era limit on the time span people can use short-term health insurance plans, which are cheaper but cover few medical benefits. Those plans are currently limited to three months.

Republicans, despite controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, have failed since Trump took office in January to make good on their seven-year promise to repeal Obamacare, which they have called a government intrusion into Americans’ healthcare.

Experts questioned whether Trump has the…

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