President Trump is wielding his rule-making power to get closer to his goal of repealing and replacing Obamacare. His executive order issued Thursday broadly tasks the administration with developing policies to increase health care competition and choice in order to improve the quality of health care and lower prices. The order, President Trump said, would give “millions of Americans with Obamacare relief.”

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One piece of this week’s order directs the Labor Department to “consider expanding access” to Association Health Plans, which would allow small businesses to team up to offer insurance. The order also seeks to expand the flexibility and use of health reimbursement arrangements, giving employees more flexibility in how they spend the pretax dollars in their accounts, including paying insurance premiums. A third part of the order directs cabinet agencies to consider new rules on allowing short-term insurance plans for up to a year to cover periods between more stable coverage (from the three months allowed Obama administration rules).

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The plan Iowa has developed to salvage its insurance market — the Iowa Stopgap Measure — suffers three major flaws.

  1. Although the Iowa Stopgap Measure helps upper middle class Iowans afford health insurance, it illegally deprives poorer Iowans of the ability to make use of health insurance.
  2. The Iowa Stopgap Measure creates effective marginal tax rates of more than 100% on many individuals, particularly those over 50, and excessive effective marginal tax on many others.
  3. Unless there’s more to its fuzzy math than it has heretofore presented, the Iowa plan costs the federal government a good deal of money.

Don’t add rejection of the Iowa waiver to the list of acts of sabotage of the ACA by the Trump administration. This is an instance where the President has faithfully executed the law. And if that law is not working or if the waiver criteria are too strict, it is to Congress that complaint should be made.

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President Trump will sign an executive order on Thursday morning aimed at taking action on health care after Congress’s failure to repeal ObamaCare.

The order will ease rules on small businesses banding together to buy health insurance, through what are known as association health plans, and lift Obama administration limits on short-term health insurance plans, according to a source on a call with administration officials Wednesday night.
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In a strongly worded letter to the Trump administration, Oklahoma’s health commissioner recently expressed frustration that a state waiver to lower costs for Obamacare customers had not been approved as quickly as federal officials had promised.

The proposal called for a reinsurance program in which government funding pays for costly medical claims while keeping prices down for other customers. Having run out of time to make a dent in premiums, the state decided to withdraw its waiver. Health commissioner Terry Cline lamented the months that Oklahoma officials spent developing a plan, followed by six weeks of daily calls or emails with federal officials, with no results.

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Congressional Republicans have failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but some of them aren’t ready to stop campaigning on that promise. “I don’t see any problem with talking about repeal and replace. We still want to do it. It’s not over,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said.

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Paul Melquist of St. Paul, Minn., has a message for the people who wrote the Affordable Care Act: “Quit wrecking my health care.”

Teri Goodrich of Raleigh, N.C., agrees. “We’re getting slammed. We didn’t budget for this,” she says.

Millions of people have gained health insurance because of the federal health law. Millions more have seen their existing coverage improved.

But one slice of the population, which includes Melquist and Goodrich, is unquestionably worse off. They are healthy people who buy their own coverage but earn too much to qualify for help paying their premiums. And the premium hikes that are being announced as enrollment looms for next year — in some states, increases topping 50 percent — will make their situations more miserable.

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Obamacare plan premiums may increase an average of 45 percent in Florida next year due to health care insurers rate hike requests, according to Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation.

There are six insurers in Florida selling plans on and off the exchanges in 2018 including Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Celtic Insurance Company, Florida Health Care Plan, Health First Commercial Plans, Health Options, and Molina Healthcare of Florida.

Molina Healthcare requested the highest rate increase of 71.2 percent. Individuals with this coverage can expect their monthly premium to increase from $402 to $688.

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The Trump administration is poised to roll back the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, vastly expanding exemptions for those that cite moral or religious objections.

The new rules, which could be issued as soon as Friday, fulfill a campaign promise by President Trump and are sure to touch off a round of lawsuits on the issue.

More than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-payments because of the contraceptive coverage mandate, according to a study commissioned by the Obama administration. Under the new regulations, hundreds of thousands of women could lose birth control benefits they now receive at no cost under the Affordable Care Act.

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Full-scale repeal of Obamacare has failed, at least for now. But there are still components of the law that can, and should, be rolled back immediately. The Independent Payment Advisory Board is a prime example.

Obamacare created the board of 15 unelected, presidentially-appointed bureaucrats to keep Medicare’s costs under control. If entitlement spending growth surpasses a specific target (currently, aggregate GDP growth plus 1 percent) the board must recommend Medicare cuts.

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