Stymied by Congress in his drive to overhaul the Obama health law, President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to use his administrative powers as head of the Executive Branch to open up new avenues for people to buy less comprehensive health insurance plans - presumably at lower prices for consumers - as a way to change the dynamic involving Obamacare.
"With Congress the way it is, I decided to take it upon myself, so we'll be announcing that soon," the President told reporters at the White House, saying his move will "go along way to take care of many of the people who have been so badly hurt" by the Obama health law.
"They will be able to buy, they will be able to cross state lines, and they will get great, competitive health care, and it will cost the United States nothing," Mr. Trump added.
It wasn't clear exactly what the President would be approving by executive fiat this week, but with no prospects for action in the House and Senate anytime soon on health care, Mr. Trump has decided to act with his pen instead. The White House said the new executive actions would be released by Friday.
That morning tweet by the President quickly caught the eye of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has pressed Mr. Trump to allow consumers to buy health insurance through associations, which presumably could mean new insurance options.
"This will be a great plan & a big deal for millions of Americans," Paul wrote on Twitter, saying he has been working with the President "for months on this."
"Details soon!" Paul added.
Paul's plan would allow individuals to band together and form "Independent Health Pools" in order to purchase insurance.
"These can include nonprofit organizations (including churches, alumni associations, trade associations, other civic groups, or entities formed strictly for establishing an IHP) so long as the organization does not
condition membership on any health status-related factor," Paul wrote about his own association health bill filed earlier this year.
One option under such a plan is that associations might not be required to follow the "Essential Health Benefits" set out in the Obama health law, allowing the sale of skimpier - and less expensive - health insurance plans.
As I wrote back in March, there are over 1,400 different provisions - including changes in the Essential Health Benefits - where the President could tinker with the Obama health law already, and then through an executive action, he could presumably do even more.
One irony about such a move is that Republicans often fumed about administrative changes made in the law by President Obama - now Mr. Trump will be doing much the same, unable to get legislative changes through the House and Senate.