This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, October 12, 2017:
Increasingly frustrated over Congress' inability or unwillingness to dismantle ObamaCare, President Trump tweeted earlier this week, “Since Congress can't get its act together on HealthCare, I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people — FAST”; and now he has.
Of course the president cannot “give” anything to someone that hasn't been taken from someone else, but other than that, the president is heading in the right direction. Leaks concerning his executive order, which he signed on Thursday, were confirmed: His order points to less government intervention and more individual freedom.
Calling the present Affordable Care Act an “Obamacare Nightmare,” Trump said his alternative is better: “This is promoting health care, choice and competition all across the United States. This is going to be something that millions and millions of people will be signing up for and they're going to be very happy. This will be great health care.”
Only the free market will be able to create “great health care,” not the government or President Trump with his magic pen. What the government can do is get out of the way and let that free market design, craft, and create health insurance coverages that customers want and are willing to pay for, without government subsidies or threats by the IRS if they don't. And that's what Trump's executive order should allow.
Specifically his executive order directs agencies in the executive branch to allow lower-cost health insurance plans, currently prohibited by ObamaCare, to be offered. It will allow new lower-priced plans to be offered across state lines, increasing competition. His order would allow individuals with medical reimbursement plans (Health Reimbursement Arrangements) at work the freedom to take some of those funds to purchase those less costly individual health insurance policies. The executive order would allow individuals to form group associations for the purpose of buying health insurance on a group basis, which generally reduces premiums.
One of the more salient improvements will be the ultimate collapse of state exchanges once Trump's executive order is implemented. Said the Press Office of the White House: “Americans are departing the ObamaCare exchanges and millions are choosing to pay the law's penalty instead.” The collapse is likely to be hastened further if the president decides to stop paying subsidies [which he did: see below] to health insurance companies in order to make those expensive ObamaCare offerings less expensive than they really are. This would lead to ObamaCare starvation through defunding.
Trump's executive order also sets the stage for further expansions of individual freedoms in purchasing healthcare. Individuals might soon be able to provide for their own healthcare coverage if they so desire, without being forced to pay IRS penalties if they decide not to purchase health insurance. Said the president:
Today is only the beginning. In the coming months, we plan to take new measures to provide our people with even more relief and more freedom.
In sum, what Trump's executive order is likely to do is to cut the legs out from under ObamaCare, hastening its eventual collapse. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), standing next to the president as the executive order was announced, called it “the biggest free market reform of health care in a generation.”
Trump's executive order will also set the stage for lawsuits from various parties interested in retaining the ObamaCare status quo from which they are benefitting, either politically or financially. Politically, Democrats, which nearly to a man are responsible for forcing ObamaCare down the throats of american citizens, are likely to claim discrimination, that with the new lower-cost options coming online, healthy individuals will opt out of ObamaCare mandated plans and purchase cheaper ones. That will cause the risk pools of those remaining covered by the health insurance companies become more costly, which will show up as even higher premiums.
This will eventually drive those high-cost plans out of business as the policyholders won't be able to afford them. They will instead, as the free market is allowed to breathe once again, enjoy other alternatives as yet to be determined. Others will claim that the Trump administration “has it in” for those now receiving health insurance at taxpayers' expense or claim that assistance will be “cut off” without mercy by Trump. This tactic is designed to play on the meme that “once something is offered for free or at a discount, taking it away is unfair,” hoping those currently enjoying coverages at someone else's expense will pressure Washington to keep those unearned benefits flowing.
The health insurance industry is also likely shortly to feel the pinch in at least two ways: They can't make as much money off lower-cost health insurance policies, and they can't make as much money if Trump cuts off the subsidies [which he did: see below] that help them sell their high-priced plans to individuals under ObamaCare. In other words, the free market will work to correct the inherent inefficiencies and distortions wrought by ObamaCare and ultimately provide much improved healthcare coverage at lower and lower costs. That's what the free market does, and that's what Trump's executive order should allow it to do.
Trump's executive order still assumes that government has a rightful, legal, and constitutional place in providing health coverage for the citizenry, but it's headed in the right direction. Had Hillary Clinton won, ObamaCare would by now be thoroughly and permanently cemented into place. Under the Trump administration, those in the freedom fight have been given more time to do more of the education necessary to alert citizens of the dangers to their freedom of government-managed anything, including healthcare coverages.
Update: The White House press secretary announced Thursday night that President Trump will end all subsidies going to health insurance companies. This reflects the fact that Congress has failed to provide for additional funding for bailouts to those companies to help customers pay for ObamaCare insurance.