Trump touts new health care move to expand choices for small businesses

President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE on Friday touted new actions meant to expand health care choices for small businesses, part of a larger effort to loosen health care regulations.

“This announcement is a monumental victory for small businesses,” Trump said in the White House Rose Garden, pointing to rules his administration released on Thursday that he said would “expand options and drive down the cost of health care.”

The rule allows employers to use tax-exempted funds, known as health reimbursement arrangements, to give workers to allow them to purchase coverage in the individual market, as opposed to through a traditional employer-sponsored health plan.

The Trump administration has been putting more emphasis on expanding health care options after its efforts to repeal ObamaCare have failed.

Trump maintained that message on Friday, touting the repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, but not revisiting his call for the entire law to be repealed. He also attacked Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' Sanders slams decision not to charge officer who killed Eric Garner Cardi B says voters let Bernie Sanders down MORE’s (I-Vt.) "massive government takeover of health care,” a reference to "Medicare for All."  

Democrats point to the lawsuit his administration is supporting calling for the entire law to be struck down, a suit now making its way through the courts.

The new action is less controversial than some other moves Trump has taken on ObamaCare. Congressional Republicans praised the new rules as expanding choices for workers and businesses, while Democrats pivoted to attacking the Trump-backed lawsuit against the health law. 

"While he claims to want affordable coverage, his Justice Department is busy arguing that courts should destroy protections for people with pre-existing conditions and strike down every other protection and guarantee of affordable health care for America’s families," Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting Trump: I don't have a racist bone in my body Ocasio-Cortez responds to fresh criticism from Trump MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement on Friday in response to Trump's move.   

Democrats have sharply criticized previous Trump actions on ObamaCare, like expanding the use of short-term health plans that are cheaper but that can reject people with pre-existing conditions, leading to Democrats calling them “junk plans.”

Trump also stressed the need for drug prices to come down, which is a rare area of possible bipartisan cooperation this year.

“I’ve spoken to Democrats and they are in support of it,” Trump said, adding, “that has to be a joint [effort].”

This story was updated at 4:50 p.m.