Trump Sticks an Executive Order in Obamacare
Scott McKay
by

It’s a shame that despite Republican control of the White House and, allegedly, both houses of Congress there has been, curiously, no legislation passed to repeal Obamacare. This despite a unanimous promise by every Republican since 2010 to do precisely that.

No political party has been so futile in its efforts at fulfilling a fundamental campaign promise over so long a time as the GOP has been with Obamacare, and that futility has come to a head this year when multiple efforts at a repeal failed — none of them perfect, to be sure, but each of the bills would have provided some relief to the millions of Americans saddled with an unconstitutional obligation to buy something they don’t want at an exorbitant, above-market price. That the Republican Party and its Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were unable to marshal 50 of its 52 Senators behind even so much as a partial fulfillment of that promise is a disgusting shame.

One of the holdouts, at least in the Graham-Cassidy bill which represented the last legislative attempt to get rid of Obamacare, was Kentucky’s Rand Paul. Paul, who had backed other potential remedies, albeit reluctantly, can be said to have made the perfect the enemy of the good with Graham-Cassidy. But Paul’s demand for a long time has been a federal embrace of what are known as association health plans — and on Thursday President Donald Trump found a way to turn Paul’s demand into policy.

The executive order which changed an interpretation of federal law to sweep away regulatory impediments to association health plans Thursday is a big deal, and it might represent the largest policy victory the junior senator from the Bluegrass State has had since entering the Senate in 2011. As he noted in a Breitbart op-ed published Thursday, the change Thursday’s announcement represents is a potential game-changer for people currently trapped in the individual market so warped by the Obamacare exchanges:

 

How will it work? Well, nationwide associations like the National Restaurant Association will be allowed to form groups across state lines and, with the leverage of size, demand Big Insurance bring down their outrageous premiums.

Many of the 28 million people left behind by Obamacare who still don’t have insurance work low-wage jobs in our fast food restaurants. The President’s decision today will allow workers from two million restaurants to come together to form a buying group and through sheer size get cheaper and better insurance.

Millions of people will be eligible for the same group insurance that big corporations offer. In fact, Health Associations may grow to be larger than the largest of our corporations. Currently, about half of private insurance is cross-state, self-insured ERISA plans, and most employees love them. The President’s action today will allow the millions of people in the individual market an escape route to group insurance.

Association Health Plans will be among the biggest free-market reforms of health care in a generation, and it will do more to counter the impact of Obamacare than most of the repeal bills did, because it will actually go after regulations that the legislation didn’t touch due to Senate rules.

Existing law allows the President to legalize these new groups and plans. Where previous administrations have been weak, President Trump is bold to allow this reform.

All group insurance guarantees access regardless of pre-existing conditions. But what is great about cross-state Health Associations is that they will be exempt from some Obamacare and State regulations. This exemption from regulations is why cross-state group insurance has seen the lowest rise in premiums of any health insurance available.

What’s not yet known is whether Trump’s new order is limited to employer-based insurance, essentially meaning small business people banding together to cover their employees, or whether it might extend to other kinds of associations. Perhaps one day we can go back to the pre-FDR days when voluntary organizations offered some sort of health plan as part of their membership — meaning health insurance would be truly portable and not a factor tying people to jobs or localities they no longer desire.

But this is certainly a start. And for those Never Trump conservatives (your author was guilty for a time in dabbling with such sentiments), that it was the populist-nationalist president acting to make reality a key piece of conservative policy that the GOP establishment couldn’t muster its own Senate membership for has to be something of a wakeup call. Trump’s move Thursday is as much a repudiation of what passes for Beltway conservatism as it is a victory for conservative policy, and perhaps it’s time for the Capitol creatures to get the message and work with him on things like tax reform they also purport to be for.

That said, McConnell does deserve a modicum of credit for a move he finally made this week to eliminate the silly “blue slip” power which gave individual Senators more or less a pocket veto over judicial appointments in their states. Blue slips have been used, particularly this year, by Democrats to hold up federal judgeships for Trump appointees indefinitely, and after months of obsequious tolerance by McConnell to the whims of his Democrat counterpart Chuck Schumer and the rest of the minority party, he finally became irritated enough to make them go away.

The media played up an “objection” by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley to the move, as Grassley said through a spokesperson that he’d retain control over the blue slip process. But Grassley’s office said he’d address “abuses” of blue slips on a case-by-case basis, which is a telltale sign that willy-nilly delays of conservative judges because they might come from states with one or more Democrat senator are over.

And that’s good news. It’s always good news to see Republicans interested in using their lawful power to implement conservative personnel and policy, and this space will applaud such developments even if they come from less-than-frequent sources of them.

Almost too good to check: Did Howard Dean really say this?

What we should do is turn over the rehab of Puerto Rico to the Clinton Foundation. They know what they are doing. You have no clue.

We checked anyway, and believe it or not, this blithering nincompoop actually tweeted the above idiocy. He was responding to a statement by Trump to the effect that the federal government personnel on Puerto Rico would be leaving at some point and the recovery effort there from Hurricane Maria will have to be taken over by the locals.

What Trump said was pretty reasonable, though perhaps unnecessary (everybody knows it, but advertising it only makes you look uncharitable when Dean and his party are doing everything they can to spread panic among the local populace and turn Maria into Trump’s Katrina). But whatever criticism might be made of Trump goes away when Dean essentially suggests appointing Harvey Weinstein as a counselor at the local rape crisis center.

The Clinton Foundation? Maria recovery? Seriously? Has Dean never heard of Haiti, or is he that cynical and abusive of his fellow man?

Don’t bother answering that one. We all know the score there.

Speaking of Harvey Weinstein, it’s like this: if you’re so incurious about terrible things that go on in your own industry that you claim, without lying, not to have known what Harvey Weinstein was doing, then you can’t claim to have an authoritative opinion on economics, the environment, or any other current events.

Shut up. Forever. That means you, Ben Affleck. And you, Matt Damon, with your lousy, Arab oil sheikh-funded anti-fracking movie. And you, Meryl Streep, with your various tree-hugging fantasy advocacy projects.

I might write a full column about this soon, but we are overdue for a competing institution to Hollywood. If the NFL, which for all its recent foibles is still fundamentally a positive, conservative cultural institution (the NFL is still a lot more Drew Brees and Jim Brown than it is Michael Bennett and Colin Kaepernick), can be taught such a severe lesson by its customers then surely the rapist-and-pedophile-driven film industry, with its whitened-sepulcher hypocrisy and self-congratulation and its nonstop substitution of leftist politics for human decency, can be decimated.

That’s not to say we should have no more film and TV. If anything we should have more. But it shouldn’t be coming from the people we get it from now. We need new and better people.

Scott McKay
Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics.
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