PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to President Trump’s Health Care Executive Order
"Attention Congress, this is what leadership looks like." - Tim Huelskamp
On Thursday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that aims to expand health care choices and alternatives to Obamacare and lower health insurance costs for consumers. The executive order allows individuals and small businesses in associations to purchase health insurance across state lines, expands short-term limited duration insurance options, and increases access to health reimbursement arrangements.
The full White House press release can be viewed here.
The following statements from health care experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at firstname.lastname@example.org and 312/377-4000.
“Attention Congress, this is what leadership looks like.
“Partnering with Dr. Rand Paul, President Donald Trump is doing everything he can to expand health care choices for Americans. While it is no replacement for Congress actually fulfilling their promise to repeal failing Obamacare, this initiative has the potential to dramatically expand health insurance options for tens of millions of Americans.”
Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.
The Heartland Institute
Dr. Huelskamp represented Kansas’ 1st District in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017.
“Trump’s executive order effectively adjusts Obamacare to expand freedom of choice in the health insurance marketplace. That is an important breakthrough, but more work is needed.”
Senior Fellow, Entitlement and Budget Policy
The Heartland Institute
Mr. Ferrara is the author of Power to the People: The New Road to Freedom and Prosperity for the Poor, Seniors, and Those Most in Need of the World’s Best Health Care (2015), and The Obamacare Disaster (2010).
“President Donald Trump’s executive order makes perfect sense and institutes entirely legal executive branch policy changes that will help lower some people’s health care costs and expand access to care. Ironically, these executive fixes accomplish, on a small scale, exactly what the Obamacare law was allegedly intended to do.
“If Congress cannot or will not act, the president should execute additional legally justifiable changes to executive department policies that will allow consumers and providers more choice in how to deliver health care and how to pay for it.”
“President Donald Trump’s executive order is an important step toward fulfilling his administration’s pledge to improve the health insurance market. However, although Trump’s order will help to expand health care options for consumers, it will not save the failing Obamacare exchanges or substantially increase the number of healthy people in the health insurance system. This is especially true when it comes to Millennials, who have found it less painful to pay the federal government’s tax penalty for not having insurance than to purchase expensive health insurance through an Obamacare exchange.”
“In signing these executive orders, the president is doing the best he can to improve the health insurance system given his extremely limited options, which are ultimately the result of the partisan ineptitude of Congress. Allowing for increased flexibility to form groups to purchase insurance will help, but only somewhat. Similarly, allowing some short-term coverage plans with reduced benefits will provide some help to certain groups.
“The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons applauds President Donald Trump for introducing a wedge of freedom, instead of more redistribution of taxpayers’ money and more regulation.
“However, the cost crisis in medicine will never be fixed if consumers in the health care system continue to rely on comprehensive third-party payments for all medical services. This drains 40 percent or more of the 3.2 trillion ‘health care’ dollars into a swamp before it gets to anything resembling a medical good or service. Instead of prepaid managed care masquerading as insurance, we need to return to individual responsibility for most medical payments, supplemented by casualty-type insurance for catastrophes—now denigrated as ‘bare bones’ coverage.
“Tax reform could also help, by treating all medical expenditures the same instead of exempting only premiums for employer-owned health plans from payroll and income taxes.
“Additionally, instead of subsidies for third-party coverage, why not provide tax credits for those who contribute to nonprofits that pay actual medical bills for uninsured or uninsurable patients, a plan modeled after state tuition tax credits for organizations that give scholarships for private schools?”
Jane M. Orient, M.D.
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
“This executive order by President Donald Trump is long overdue. We should have seen multiple actions over the past nine months that could have similarly mitigated the extreme economic and policy mandates of the Obamacare debacle.
“My only question is: What took so long? Nine months of shenanigans in Congress and broken promises did no good. I want more action! To paraphrase the shark hunter from the movie Jaws, ‘We need a bigger scalpel!’”
“Making association health plans available across state lines will have a very limited effect on competition and cost. It keeps employers and insurers in control of how workers’ money is utilized in the health care marketplace. What is needed is for all workers to be granted the same tax advantage in purchasing care that employers have enjoyed for more than 70 years, thereby leveling the playing field so the market controls costs.”
“Today, the Trump administration took the first step toward undoing the massive damage to the U.S. health care system caused by the Affordable Care Act. It is an indictment of the feckless Congress that it could not get health care reform started. Sadly, another executive action was needed to start this process, but hopefully it will remove the logjam in Washington, DC and reverse the inaction that has come to typify the ‘Swamp.’
“So much more needs to be done to restore health care freedom to all Americans, such as eliminating many of the needless regulations that hamper innovation. The emphasis needs to move away from health insurance and focus instead on health care. Once health care costs come down, insurance won’t be as important as it is right now. Lowering costs can be accomplished by giving health care decision-making power back to patients and taking away health care special interests’ advantages, which were granted in the first place by corrupt, poorly conceived government policies.”
“Unfortunately, in the big picture, these steps are the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The fundamental problem with health care is not coverage, but cost. As long as the cost of health care continues to increase, premiums will increase and coverage and access to care will decrease. Until we address the fundamental underlying problems with health care that drive up costs, the problem remains unsolved.”
“With the reported expansion of short-term insurance to annual renewal, instead of quarterly, this could be a very inexpensive reintroduction of catastrophic insurance, especially if the mandate to have compliant insurance policies is not enforced.”
“Association health plans are a great idea. Reforming health reimbursement arrangements is also a good step forward. I especially like the idea of allowing early retirees and others access to affordable health plans, including short-term medical plans. I wish the president could give states much more flexibility, but Congress has stood in his way.”
“Anything that allows more federalism and more consumer choice in health care is a step in the right direction. It is a shame that this sort of common sense legislation has to be done by a fragile executive order rather than by a binding act of Congress, but it seems to be too much to ask of Congress at this point to provide citizens even a minor bit of regulatory relief from the Affordable Care Act.”
“Association health plans have been tried and failed in the past, but not in the type of financial crisis we are experiencing today. With exemptions allowed as ERISA plans, AHPs might be a solution for many individuals who want affordable choices. One cannot look to AHPs as the answer, however, as they do nothing to reduce the price of medical care or overuse of care by those who practice unhealthy behaviors.”
“President Trump’s executive order looks like a step in the right direction. Anything that expands choices without increasing the application of coercion or taxes is probably a good thing. Medicare and the Affordable Care Act are continuing to fall apart, and people and businesses who are harmed need escape hatches, not more governmental lifeboats.”
Kathleen M. Brown, MD
Founder, Oregon Coast Dermatology
Policy Advisor, the Heartland Institute
“We appreciate President Trump’s determination to unravel the Affordable Care Act. The executive order, as discussed in the White House release, establishes a vision for moving toward health freedom and affordability. However, it appears to be less of a directive and more of a strong suggestion.
“Nothing in this order is a guarantee of any changes. In the White House release, we count six uses of the word ‘potentially’ and three uses of the word ‘consider.’ The Departments need only consider whether they’ll expand access to association health plans, expand coverage through short-term insurance, or make changes to allow more access to health reimbursement accounts. Furthermore, because the executive order prohibits association health plans from underwriting for health status, they could not offer true insurance to Americans, the affordable major medical policies for financially and medically catastrophic injuries and illnesses that the individual does not yet have.
“The most effective way President Trump could begin unravelling the Affordable Care Act is by simply stopping the unconstitutional cost-sharing reduction subsidies and cutting off the illegal ‘special contributions’ that only Congress and staffers receive to pay for the high price of their coverage. A vote by Congress to repeal the ACA would more likely follow that kind of executive decision.”
Allowing the health insurance industry to sell products across state lines and sell policies tailored to the needs of those purchasing them will prove to be more efficient (and less expensive). This is simply economics 101. Of course, those on the left will moan and cry over this, but the left is only happy when government bureaucrats (mainly themselves) control everything. The left doesn't mind higher prices, waiting lines and poorer quality care as long as they control it. The loss of any bit of their control will be portrayed by the left as a pandemic on the American people. The reality is a move toward freedom. Finally, the Trump administration has put the brakes on our way to healthcare fascism.