Trump plans order allowing insurance sold across state lines

Trump plans order allowing insurance sold across state lines
© Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday said he is considering an executive order to allow health insurance to be purchased across state lines.

Trump told reporters at the White House that he plans to issue a “very major" executive order, probably next week, "where people can go out across state lines, do lots of things, and buy their own health care.”

Trump said the order is “being finished now. It's going to cover a lot of territory and a lot of people — millions of people.”

Selling insurance across state lines is an idea Republicans have long backed. They say competition will help drive down prices.

Experts said it’s not clear what an executive order on selling insurance plans across state lines would do.

Under ObamaCare, states are already allowed to let insurers sell plans outside their borders. No states have chosen to do so.   

The executive order could also be portrayed as contrary to the Republican pledge of returning health care power to the states, which was the main argument behind the multiple ObamaCare repeal attempts.

“To do anything from a federal level would usurp states’ ability” to regulate their own insurance markets, said Christopher Holt, director of health care policy at the right-leaning American Action Forum.

The idea is to make insurance more competitive by eliminating the barriers associated with state insurance regulation. Insurers would be able to offer national plans with lower administrative costs.

The insurance industry has never fully supported the idea.

“We want to find solutions that deliver more choices, more competition, and lower costs. We will be looking forward to the details of what specifically will be proposed,” a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans said in a statement to The Hill. “While cross-state selling has been offered as a solution” there are challenges “that need to be addressed for it to be a viable solution.”

Trump in his comments also insisted that Republicans "have the votes" to repeal ObamaCare but said they could not move ahead now because a senator is in the hospital. He predicted a vote will happen early next year.

In the meantime, he said he would work with Democrats on a bipartisan health bill.

Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program absent court action | Democrats demand Trump withdraw rule on transgender health | Cummings, Sanders investigate three drug companies for 'obstructing' probe Democrats demand Trump officials withdraw rule on transgender health The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate MORE (D-Wash.), respectively the chairman and ranking member on the Senate Health Committee, are looking to restart bipartisan talks on an ObamaCare stabilization bill.

Trump also said he’s looking at an executive order on “associations.”

“I am considering an executive order on associations, and that will take care of a tremendous number of people with regard to health care,” Trump said.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGraham promises ObamaCare repeal if Trump, Republicans win in 2020 Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Rand Paul to 'limit' August activities due to health MORE (R-Ky.) has been championing the idea of allowing organizations, such as trade groups, to band together to buy insurance.

Paul has said he expects the executive order would loosen restrictions under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which lets companies purchase insurance across state lines for their employees.

Paul has advocated letting individuals form associations to do the same thing.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act "operates across state lines, but doesn’t apply to most associations right now,” a Paul aide told The Hill. “We have been pushing to remove regulations that prevent associations plans from forming under [the act].”

- This story was updated at 5:05 p.m.