President Donald Trump took the first steps toward fulfilling his vow to dismantle Obamacare, and Tarpon Springs Republican Gus Bilirakis is thrilled.
Trump signed an executive order Thursday that calls on his administration to develop policies to increase health care competition and choice with the intent of improving the quality of health care and lower prices.
Specifically, the president’s order directs the Labor Department to study how to make it easier for small businesses, and possibly individuals, to join together and buy health insurance through nationwide association health plans, CNN reported. The department could give employers in the same industries more flexibility to offer group coverage across state lines, providing them with a broader range of policies at lower rates.
Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine tweeted that the executive order might be complicated, so he’d break it down in simpler terms.
“It’s sabotage,” he tweeted, adding later that “it would allow cheap low-quality plans onto the market that could discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, seniors,” ultimately pushing healthy people onto “junk plans,” which leave only the sick or at-risk on the Affordable Care Act, essentially destroying the insurance market.
Bilirakis, on the other hand, applauded what he termed the President’s “bold action.”
“This is great news, especially since the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation recently announced that individual health insurance plans available on the Florida exchange are likely to increase by an average of 44.7 percent, effective January 1, 2018,” Bilirakis said. “Additionally, there will only by 9 companies participating in the Florida exchange next year, with 42 out of 67 counties only having one provider, Florida Blue.”
Bilirakis added that he’s always been a proponent of allowing individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines and expand the reach of Association Health Plans, “because I believe it will drive down prices through increased competition.”
Earlier this year, Bilirakis held three town hall meetings on health care in his district, by far the most by any Republican in the Tampa Bay area. Angry Democrats dominated all three, demanding he does not support dismantling the Affordable Care Act.