U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said in a conference call the executive order on health insurance that President Donald Trump signed on Thursday is an important step in eventually ending the Affordable Care Act.
Paul said he’s been talking with Trump for the last nine months about the prospects of expanding access to cheap insurance over state lines. He stood behind the President as the order was being signed.
"This is something we've worked on for several months with the president and we are excited it has come to fruition today,” Paul said on a conference call. “We think it has the possibility of allowing millions of people who currently don't have insurance to get some."
The executive order directs the Labor, Health and Human Services and Treasury departments to come up with regulations to allow the availability of association health plans to allow more employees to participate. Trump’s order asks the agencies to rewrite the rules to allow them to be bigger and sell plans across state lines so they can use their purchasing power to bring down the cost of insurance.
Paul said the executive order improves the average individual's bargaining power by joining the associations.
"A lot of people who work in the fast food industry, or otherwise, don't have insurance sometimes," he said. "But if we allow groups like the National Restaurant Association to pull together their employees, and one person would negotiate for millions of people, then we can bring down and drive down the price. We allow consumers to bargain collectively to bring down the prices and equalize the transactions between insurance companies and consumer.”
The executive order from Trump comes after Congress failed in its attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Paul’s thinking is that there’s strength in numbers when dealing with insurance.
“Right now, if you are a carpenter or a welder or accountant or lawyer or doctor, and you have four or five employees, you really don't have any leverage to drive the price down, but if you are able to join an association we think we can drive prices down. We think the 11 million on the individual market can find less expensive options.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the state’s senior senator, posted a statement on his Senate website.
“Obamacare is failing and people across the country are hurting," he said in the statement. "I am pleased that the administration is looking for new ways to promote more affordable health insurance policies to better meet the needs of working families.”
Trump’s order doesn’t come without its critics, including some media reports indicating it will help younger, healthier people lower healthcare costs, but possibly complicate the costs for older citizens with more complex healthcare challenges.
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, issued a statement warning of rising costs to people’s insurance.
“With one signature, President Trump is now jeopardizing the health security of millions of Americans,” Yarmuth said in the statement. “The end result will be that costs for everyone else will soar, and ultimately, insurance markets that provide real coverage with real projections will collapse. Welcome to Trumpcare.”