The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg raises the possibility Trump could add another conservative justice to the Supreme Court who cou...
The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg raises the possibility Trump could add another conservative justice to the Supreme Court who could provide the decisive vote to strike down the health care law and throw the nation’s health system into disarray.
The second order states that the administration will ban unexpected bills if Congress doesn’t enact a fix by year’s end.
The actions come after the president repeatedly pledged to unveil a comprehensive health care plan and with polls showing Trump badly lagging Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on the issue.
Senior administration officials characterized the order on preexisting conditions as setting a national policy, though Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar conceded on a call with reporters that the administration would have to work with Congress to replace the protections if Obamacare is struck down.
Azar pointed to the high cost of Obamacare plans and argued that they don’t truly cover preexisting conditions if people with chronic illnesses can’t afford their premiums or deductibles.
“If you’re a couple aged 55, living in Missouri, making $70,000 a year, the Affordable Care Act will cost you $30,000 in premiums, with a $12,000 deductible,” Azar said. “ I’m sorry, that’s not affordable coverage.”
Obamacare enshrined protections for the sickest Americans to prevent health plans from denying them coverage. Trump has repeatedly promised a new replacement plan, saying the health care law is unworkable.
The directive on “surprise” billing also isn’t expected to resolve a long-running dispute over holding patients harmless for sometimes staggering bills for emergency or out-of-network care.
Instead of proposing a billing fix, Azar said Trump would instruct his department to “investigate” executive and regulatory actions that could be taken to stop both hospitals and doctors who practice there from sending these pricey bills.
“Those special interest groups need to sort it out, figure out how it would work. There have been legislative packages that have come quite close on the Hill, but the president is saying that the time is now,” Azar said.
But the health industry and Congress haven’t been able to reach a consensus for over a year. The effort to address surprise medical bills has been so contentious that a person who appeared to represent a specialty physician group dialed into a press call Thursday to criticize the executive order, arguing that under California’s law to limit the practice, “insurance companies dictate what doctors can get.”
Azar pushed back on the notion that the White House watered down its announcement. Multiple sources believed the administration was weighing whether to remove doctors and hospitals who sent “surprise” bills from the Medicare and Medicaid programs, a crucial source of revenue for health providers.