Repeal Obamacare: First Steps

Donald Trump made repealing and replacing Obamacare one of his campaign’s central themes and his Healthcare Reform policy paper promises to do so:

“By following free market principles and working together to create sound public policy that will broaden healthcare access, make healthcare more affordable and improve the quality of the care available to all Americans.”

However, fully repealing Obamacare could take months in Congress. Mr. Trump could begin the process using his executive authority. The Washington Examiner has published five concrete steps Trump could take on his first day in office:

1. Trump could direct Justice to stop fighting a lawsuit from House Republicans, who argue the Obama administration illegally paid cost-sharing subsidies to insurers without first getting an appropriation from Congress.

Last May, federal judge Rosemary Collyer ruled for the House but the administration has appealed the ruling. Trump could both rescind that appeal and halt the flow of subsidies to insurers, which could in turn weaken the marketplaces.

2. He could prohibit Justice from settling another lawsuit, this one from insurers seeking risk corridor payments to help cover the costs from their sickest patients. The Obama administration had hinted it might settle the lawsuits as a way of getting the payments to the insurers.

That infuriated Republicans, who say the payments amount to an illegal bailout of insurers since Congress has passed legislation requiring the risk corridor program to be budget neutral. That measure meant many insurers were compensated at levels far below what they had requested.

3. Trump could propose rules creating more exemptions from the individual mandate to buy coverage, further weakening the tool that was supposed to ensure everyone has a way to pay for the healthcare they’ll inevitably need to use at some point.

4. He could halt outreach and enrollment assistance funds for the Obamacare marketplaces, which would likely hurt signups near the end of open enrollment season.

5. Finally, Trump could revise what’s known as the “HHS mandate,” a guidance document from the Obama administration requiring employers to include all FDA-approved contraception in their insurance plans.

To the joy of social conservatives who oppose the mandate, the Supreme Court has required the administration to allow more businesses to opt out. But conservatives are still unhappy that the administration hasn’t completely exempted any employer with a religious objection to birth control.”