On Thursday, October 12, 2017, President Trump made two major moves on healthcare. In the morning, Trump signed an executive order directing an overhaul of major federal regulations. The primary area of change is with what are known as association health plans (AHPs), which allow small-business owners, trade groups and others to band together to purchase health insurance. The directive aims to encourage cheaper, but less regulated plans that would be exempt from certain Obamacare rules, including requirements that it cover standard benefits. Federal agencies will now have to create and review new rule changes to enact these directives, and it could be quite some time before these changes are formally proposed and implemented.
In the early evening, President Trump announced that the federal government will end the ACAs cost-sharing reduction subsidies (CSRs). The federal government pays CSRs to help alleviate the copays and deductibles for people with incomes up to 250 percent of the poverty line ($61,500 for a family of four in 2017). Without these subsidies, it is unclear how the ACA will absorb the extra costs for those earning lower incomes. On Tuesday, October 17, Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray announced that a bipartisan deal has been reached to address CSRs. IMF’s Advocacy team will continue to monitor this situation.