Executive Order on Health Care Doesn't Change Anything Soon

By Leonard, Wendy | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), October 13, 2017 | Go to article overview

Executive Order on Health Care Doesn't Change Anything Soon


Leonard, Wendy, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


By Wendy Leonard

Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY - President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that he says will "fix" a health care system broken by Obamacare.

"Today is only the beginning," Trump said during a White House news conference, the 49th in his nearly nine months as president of the United States.

But because any changes to laws, rules and regulations require study, public comment and implementation phases, it might be some time before Utah consumers actually realize any change.

"This is an uncomfortable situation for insurers to be in and an uncomfortable position for the consumers who rely on consistent coverage," said Jason Stevenson, director of education and communications with the Utah Health Policy Project, which advocates for Utah's uninsured.

Stevenson said insurers are "very concerned" with the news coming out of Washington, D.C., and people planning to enroll in the federal marketplace may also be confused by it all.

Open enrollment for individuals and families who do not have access to affordable health benefits through an employer begins via healthcare .gov on Nov. 1, extending to the end of the year - a period that has already been cut short by the Trump administration.

"It really fits into a pattern of sabotage of the individual market in Utah and across the country of trying to confuse people about what's going on and what's available, and (it's) also making insurers very nervous about what's in store," Stevenson said. "It makes it very hard for them to practice their business."

And what's proposed in Thursday's order, "Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States," isn't exactly feasible, said Steve Gooch, public information officer with the Utah Insurance Department.

"Utah law at the moment doesn't allow insurance to be sold like the president is proposing," Gooch said, "so changes would have to be done legislatively to make that happen. It would take some time to do."

Sean Dunroe, director of product development, business development and strategy at SelectHealth, told members of the Utah Legislature's Health Reform Task Force on Wednesday that the market is "extremely challenging" as it is.

The higher premiums go, the "more likely we are to have people drop out of the market that just can't afford health care coverage," Dunroe said.

"As lower-risk individuals drop out of an insurance pool, the costs continue to go up for everybody and it becomes difficult to sustain it over time," he said, adding that federal actions could cause instability in the market.

The executive order lengthens terms for short-term/catastrophic plans to up to a year, which means younger, healthier people might opt for the cheaper coverage, making costs higher for everyone else, Dunroe pointed out.

Some think the move may be more political than anything, pressuring Congress to arrive at a solution to "repeal and replace Obamacare," as the Trump administration has promised to do.

And Trump said he's going to "pressure Congress very strongly to finish the repeal and the replace of Obamacare for all."

Democrats denounced Trump's order as more "sabotage," while Republicans called it "bold action" to help consumers. A major small-business group praised the president, while doctors, insurers and state regulators said they have concerns and are waiting to details. …

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