The measures, which are far from a global proposal, come less than six weeks before the presidential election and serve as a political game to support concerns in a fluctuating state event. Democratic candidate Joe Biden has already pledged to make healthcare a focal point of the rest of his campaign, highlighting Trump’s actions to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and the unprecedented protections the law already provides for people with pre-existing conditions.
The president is also trying to shift focus away from criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 200,000 Americans have died from the virus in the past six months.
The first executive order will state that it is US policy to protect people suffering from pre-existing conditions, the president said. Any legislation that Congress sends to its desk must include this provision, he said.
“We are putting it in a stamp, because our opponents, the Democrats, like to talk about it constantly and yet the pre-existing conditions are much safer with us than they are with them,”
The president and Republican lawmakers have repeatedly said they will safeguard these Americans, even as they try to take down the Affordable Care Act that already protects them. In a call with reporters, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar declined to specify how the administration would grant these protections if the Supreme Court overturned the historic health reform law in a case that would consider this deadline.
The second executive order orders Congress to pass legislation to address surprise medical billing by the end of the year, and if lawmakers fail to achieve this, Azar will seek to do so via executive or regulatory action.
Trump already called for an end to the practice in a 2019 speech and in his State of the Union address earlier this year. Although lawmakers on both sides agree, the legislation has been hampered by diverging views on who should cover the bill: insurers or suppliers.
Although the president has repeatedly promised to launch a health care proposal, the administration has decided to bill the wide variety of measures Trump has taken as his vision.
In his speech, Trump set out what he calls his America First Healthcare Plan, which includes many measures his administration put in place during his first term, some of which have been enacted, but others remain proposed or bound in court. . These include: expanding cheaper alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, requiring hospitals to disclose the prices they negotiate, reducing insulin costs for seniors, and improving kidney health. He also noted that Americans insured through Medicare Advantage have seen their premiums decline.
Trump also said seniors will receive $ 200 cards in the coming weeks to help them buy prescription drugs.
A senior administration official told CNN that the money will come in the form of discount cards for prescription drug payments.
The official said the cost for the cards will be offset by savings from Trump’s recent executive action on “favored nations,” which requires Medicare to try to pay the same price for some expensive prescription drugs that other developed countries do.
Funding for the cards will come from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a designated Medicare demonstration project.
Protect those with pre-existing conditions
The Affordable Care Act protections for people with pre-existing conditions have proved to be among its most popular provisions. Democrats’ advocacy of the law helped them take control of the House in 2018.
Protections include barring insurers from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to individuals based on their medical history, both of which were common practices in the individual market prior to Obamacare. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 54 million Americans – or 27 percent of non-elderly adults – have conditions that would have made them uninsurable under the old system.
The law also requires insurers to provide global benefits in the individual market and prohibits them from imposing annual or duration limits on coverage.
Although the president has repeatedly said he will continue with these protections, his actions say otherwise. The administration largely supports a coalition of Republican-led state attorneys general, who say Obamacare’s individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional when Congress reduced the sentence for not having insurance to zero in 2017. As a result , the whole law must fall, they argue. . This case is now before the Supreme Court.
Additionally, the president’s efforts to continue protections do little to help people afford health insurance should Obamacare be declared unconstitutional. The law provides generous subsidies to low- and moderate-income Americans to purchase Affordable Care Act exchange policies and supports states that expand Medicaid to low-income adults. About 38 states, plus the District of Columbia, have expanded Medicaid or approved voting measures to do so.
End your surprise medical billing
The president has also spoken repeatedly about solving the problem of surprise medical billing, another major health concern of Americans.
Efforts to address the issue in Congress have been stalled amid a blitz of lobbying and publicity by the healthcare industry. Insurers prefer the government to set a benchmark rate, but hospitals and other providers, often backed by private equity firms, strongly support resolving the issue through arbitration.
Proposals to lower drug prices
In recent weeks, the president has been trying to renew attention on his efforts to lower drug prices, one of the main promises of his campaign and first term. The high cost of prescription drugs has long been a major health complaint of Americans.
But his measures, which also included the recall of drug manufacturers on Twitter, did not lead to lower prices of the drugs, although the rate of price growth slowed between 2015 and 2019. The producers raised the prices of drugs. 857 drugs averaged 6.8% in the first six months of this year, according to GoodRx, which tracks several thousand generic and brand-name drugs.
Trump officials have also proposed a separate rule that would require insurers to provide consumers with estimates of their out-of-pocket costs for all health services through an online tool. Some experts, however, say the rules won’t help many consumers because people typically don’t buy medical services.
Jason Hoffman of CNN contributed to this report.