WASHINGTON, January 20, 2017 — Just a few hours after taking the oath of office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that allows federal agencies the power to loosen enforcement of large chunks of Obamacare, including the mandate requiring Americans to purchase insurance.
The order was signed during an Oval Office ceremony. The order grants federal agencies the power to change, delay or waive provisions of the law they deem overly costly for insurers, drug makers, doctors, patients or states. With a stroke of a pen he begins the unravelling of a key piece of President Obama’s legacy.
Trump’s executive order calls for the creation of a program to allow the sale of health insurance across state lines, a reform long promoted by Republicans. The order also gives states more flexibility and control over their health care markets.
Trump’s order shows that he is committed to fixing the damage caused by the Affordable Care Act as soon as possible. It does not order the Department of Health and Human Services to loosen any aspect of the law. Currently, ACA requires taxpayers to either have minimum essential health coverage, meet an exemption, or make a shared responsibility payment.
Trump promised his supporters that he would do away with the law and that his alternative would be “something terrific.” Congressional action will be needed to make major changes to the law. Republicans have said they want to loosen the rules around Obamacare’s requirements on what healthcare services an insurance plan must cover.
Trump took executive action immediately after becoming president, signaling to the American people that he is ready for business and set to “make America great again.” He is expected to make further, significant policy announcements in the early days of his administration. Among them are moves to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal and to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, or possibly completely withdraw from it.
Trump also faces the early task of naming a Supreme Court justice to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump has said he will announce a nominee in about two weeks. He will also swiftly undo regulations on oil and coal, as well as act on cybersecurity.