By Tom Milligan
Since the beginning, I’ve been very vocal in my belief that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional. Since I haven’t seen any recent amendments to the Constitution, and since my belief hasn’t changed, I was excited to see the title of our new President’s very first Executive Order acknowledging the economic burden the ACA has caused and inferring that his order will minimize that burden until the ACA is repealed.
Trump supporters across the nation threw this Executive Order in my face – and the faces of Never Trumpers everywhere – screeching, “see! Trump is following through on his promises.”
I have to admit, I was pretty excited.
Excited to see the ACA repealed.
Excited to see costs reduced.
Excited to be wrong about Trump.
But when I read the order – not just the title – my excitement dimmed significantly.
The first section of the order starts out, “It is the policy of my Administration to seek the prompt repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
Literally the first official act of our President was to announce his intent to repeal the ACA.
The rest of section one explains that until its full repeal, the intent is to reduce the negative effects, costs, and other burdens caused by – or the implementation of – the ACA.
I fully support this.
In fact, to my surprise, I support about 90% of Trump’s health care reform plan found on the Health Care Reform section of www.DonaldJTrump.com. (the single exception is item #5 since it would require a government regulation and oversight in an otherwise free-market plan.)
If Trump could implement his plan, as written, I would support it, applaud it, and happily eat crow about Donald Trump (at least on this singular issue).
But beginning with his appearance on 60 minutes in September 2015, Donald Trump has quite consistently said that it’s his plan to 1. “repeal and replace” Obamacare, 2. “cover everybody”, and 3. “the government will pay for it”.
I hope he’ll stick with what’s written on his page and not what he’s said during interviews.
The next three sections of the Order issue a directive to those in power to use all “authority and discretion” to:
Section 2: “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden.”
Section 3: “provide greater flexibility to States and cooperate with them in implementing healthcare programs.”
Section 4: “encourage the development of a free and open market in interstate commerce for the offering of healthcare services and health insurance, with the goal of achieving and preserving maximum options for patients and consumers.”
This is fantastic!
I mean seriously folks, aside from Obama himself, who wouldn’t want to see all of those directives enacted? But Obama didn’t want them enacted or he wouldn’t have come up with Obamacare in the first place.
And, at least for now, Obamacare is still the law.
This means that unfortunately, yet understandably, each of these directives is prefaced by, “To the maximum extent permitted by law…”
Even Donald Trump’s Executive Orders are bound by law. I’m glad he recognizes that.
And in this context, “the law” means the ACA.
And those in power still have to abide by the ACA.
And the ACA does not permit waivers, exemptions, flexibility, or free and open market commerce.
So until the ACA is repealed, sections 2-4 are largely window dressing and would have little effect on the consumer or the federal government. According to an official statement from Mark Sandy, Acting Director of the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget:
Implementing this executive order would have a de minimis impact on costs and revenues to the Federal Government: it would have a de minimis impact on mandatory and discretionary obligations and outlays, as well as on revenues to the Federal Government, in the 5-fiscal year period beginning in fiscal year 2017.
So as I said above: window dressing.
The balance of the Order is administrative.
I applaud Trump’s written plan to repeal the ACA while simultaneously decrying his verbal plan to replace it with yet another unconstitutional, liberal, big government program.
Anyone excited by this Order either hasn’t read it, doesn’t understand it, or is so deluded by Trump’s propaganda machine that nothing can penetrate the veneer of stupid surrounding them.
It’s too bad that Trump’s first official act has no teeth, will have minimal impact, and makes no substantive changes.
I think he blew a great opportunity to make a real statement and a real difference. Sad.