President Trump announced today that he will be signing an Executive Order to establish his America First Healthcare Plan. Unlike the sweeping Affordable Care Act, this is not a complete overhaul of our current system. Rather, it appears to be executive regulation on certain aspects of healthcare, with a focus on cost to the patient.
Boasting protection for pre-existing conditions, the executive order builds off of existing policy – including aspects of the ACA – in order to work within the confines of the law. Today’s order puts the protection of pre-existing conditions into the Trump White House policy, contradicting one of the most popular attacks against his re-election.
The order states:
Sec. 2. Policy. It has been and will continue to be the policy of the United States to give Americans seeking healthcare more choice, lower costs, and better care and to ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions can obtain the insurance of their choice at affordable rates.
It also builds off of the authority of executive orders issued earlier this year.
The July 24, 2020 Executive Order on Access to Affordable Life-saving Medications acted to significantly lower the cost of insulin and protect consumers who were in need of the medication. On the same date, the Executive Order on Increasing Drug Importation to Lower Prices for American Patients worked to improve import regulations on medicines coming into the United States.
Today’s order calls on both of these executive orders to drive down the cost of medications across the board, as well as authorize the import of significantly cheaper medications from Canada effective immediately.
It also appears to aim to increase the market size for health coverage, which in turn would promote competitive pricing, driving down the cost of premiums on the front line.
Sec. 3. Giving Americans More Choice in Healthcare. The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall maintain and build upon existing actions to expand access to and options for affordable healthcare.
As fantastic as all of this sounds on face value, I am still taken aback by the amount of change being inflicted by the power of the executive. I have already expressed my concerns of President Trumps unconstitutional rhetoric, and it is not the duty of the President to dictate law and regulation. So I was both surprised, and delighted, to see that his directive actually calls for Congress to act on these measures to enact these measures correctly:
(i) Recognizing that both chambers of the Congress have made substantial progress towards a solution to end surprise billing, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall work with the Congress to reach a legislative solution by December 31, 2020.
Unfortunately, it is an election year, and the Democratic party has definitely had their own set of priorities. Hopefully the American people can take a win in a much needed aspect of our lives. The America First Healthcare Plan seems to be a large step in the right direction.