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President Trump Signs Executive Order Focused on Healthcare Coverage

President Trump Signs Executive Order Focused on Healthcare Coverage

President Trump announced an executive order that addresses key questions employers and HR teams have about the future of healthcare in a possible second Trump administration. The order was signed on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020.

 

Background: Why Issue an Executive Order Now?

The new order marks the second round of executive actions in as many months. President Trump signed several executive orders in August 2020 to provide temporary COVID-19 relief while Congress continued to delay passing additional legislation.

Politico reported on Sept. 22, 2020, that the executive order signals the Trump administration’s efforts to “shore up” its record on healthcare in advance of the November presidential election. (A hallmark of the president’s healthcare platform has been the team’s ongoing effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.)

 

What is the Executive Order?

According to the White House, the Executive Order on An America-First Healthcare Plan promises to improve healthcare for Americans, provide more choice for patients, and deliver lower costs.

More specifically, the executive order intends to:

  1. Protect Americans with Preexisting Conditions: The executive order declared it the policy of the federal government to protect people with preexisting conditions to ensure they have access to affordable healthcare. 
  2. Protect Americans from Surprise Medical Bills: The executive order also states that the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) will work with Congress to reach a legislative solution to end surprise billing. If a law isn’t passed by Dec. 31, 2020, the Secretary of HHS will “take administrative action” to prevent surprise medical bills and unanticipated out-of-pocket expenses. 

In further clarification issued by the White House, the Trump administration also promised to continue driving down healthcare costs for Americans, including requiring transparent pricing from hospitals and insurance companies and lowering prescription drug costs. In the coming weeks, the White House will likely release additional information detailing the president’s plans to take on these objectives.

 

How Does the Action Impact Employers?

With the presidential election only weeks away, it’s difficult to say what kind of lasting impact this order may have on employers moving forward.

For example, if President Trump loses reelection, a Biden administration could easily decide to undo the executive order. (Biden has vowed to strengthen the ACA, which currently protects participants from losing or being refused healthcare coverage due to preexisting conditions.) 

However, if Trump wins reelection in November, the executive order likely signals what’s to come for the president’s approach to healthcare reform in his second term. As the executive order suggests, reform could include continuing to protect Americans with preexisting conditions, protecting Americans from surprise medical bills—either through new legislation or additional executive orders—and driving down costs of medical care.

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