WASHINGTON — Before heading to the evening’s inaugural balls, President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies “to ease the burden of Obamacare as we transition to repeal and replace,” in the words of press secretary Sean Spicer.
Pending repeal of the Affordable Care Act by Congress, the order states, “it is imperative for the executive branch to ensure that the law is being efficiently implemented, take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the Act, and prepare to afford the States more flexibility and control to create a more free and open healthcare market.”
Health and Human Services and all other agencies that have a hand in Obamacare “shall exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.”
Agencies will also “encourage the development of a free and open market in interstate commerce for the offering of healthcare services and health insurance,” according to the order.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Trump “is right to make the urgent work of rescuing Americans trapped in a collapsing Obamacare system a top priority on his first day in office.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said he thought the executive order “demonstrates that President Trump is committed to fixing the damage caused by Obamacare as soon as possible.”
“In the coming weeks, I look forward to working with the president and my Senate colleagues to dismantle this failed law and improve healthcare for patients and families,” he added.
The White House also announced a freeze on new regulatory actions within government agencies.
According to a memo from chief of staff Reince Priebus, no regulations can be submitted to the Office of the Federal Register unless a Trump-appointed agency head approves the rule or tasks someone else with reviewing it. The Office of Management and Budget will be able to waive the freeze on a case-by-case, critical-needs basis.