Trump’s Executive Order: Can Association Health Plans Accomplish What Congress Could Not?

By Kevin Lucia and Sabrina Corlette

Within days of the failure of the Graham-Cassidy legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Trump announced that he would likely sign an executive order to allow individuals and small employers to purchase health insurance across state lines through associations. Senator Rand Paul (R–Ky.), among others, has pushed the idea that the Trump administration can accomplish by executive fiat what repeated congressional repeal attempts could not.

While details are sketchy, it is possible the Trump administration could use its regulatory authority to allow an Association Health Plan (AHP) to be treated the same as a large-employer health plan, even if that AHP is selling insurance primarily to small employers or individual consumers. If they do so, the health insurance sold via the AHP could become exempt from consumer protections such as the essential health benefits standard and the prohibition on charging higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions. The result would be increased risk for higher premiums and fewer plan options on the individual market, as well as fraud and insolvency.

In their latest post for the Commonwealth Fund’s To the Point blog, CHIR’s Kevin Lucia and Sabrina Corlette assess what might be in the promised executive order and its impact on consumers and health insurance markets. You can read the full post here.

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of the individual blog post authors and do not represent the views of Georgetown University, the Center on Health Insurance Reforms, any organization that the author is affiliated with, or the opinions of any other author who publishes on this blog.