Trump’s Executive Order On Obamacare Left Insurers In The Dark, Too

The head of the top trade group for health insurers confirmed Wednesday that the Trump administration had not explained what to expect from an executive order the President signed on the Affordable Care Act, which outsider experts have struggled to parse as well.

Testifying in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Marilyn Tavenner, the president and chief executive officer of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), told Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) that insurers had not received any additional guidance from the administration about its plans for implementing the order.

“We do not have any details on the executive order,” Tavenner said, after a line of questioning from Warren about whether the Trump administration has gone into more specifics.

The order, signed on the first evening of Trump’s presidency, told relevant agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay” various provisions in the law, including its taxes. Outside analysis of the order ranged from it being essentially toothless to it having the ability to weaken the ACA’s individual mandate to the point of gutting the law entirely.

Many experts agree that the administration has fairly broad latitude to hobble implementation of the law, as the vague order suggested.

The insurance industry has been reluctant to take strong positions on Republicans’ plans to dismantle the ACA. AHIP’s statement after the executive order was signed noted that the group had “been meeting with policymakers to offer our recommendations” and that it “found them to be highly engaged and focused on finding real solutions.”

Pressed by Warren on whether the unknowns surrounding the executive order are creating challenges for insurers, Tavenner was slightly more critical.

“I think this is part of what I’ve tried to stress in this hearing,” Tavenner said. “We need predictability and we need predictability for long periods of time in order to price and price effectively.”

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