Governor, Insurance Commissioner issue joint statements on President’s executive order on health care

Thursday, October 12, 2017 - 4:00pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – Governor Doug Burgum and Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread today issued the following statements in response to President Trump signing an executive order directing the Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury to consider issuing guidance and regulations for expanding access to association health plans (AHPs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and short-term medical plans.

“The empty promises of Obamacare have reduced choice and competition in health care markets and driven up health care costs for consumers and employers across North Dakota and the nation,” Burgum said. “As efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare continue, we’re grateful that President Trump is taking incremental steps toward providing consumers with more affordable coverage options, lower premiums and greater control over their own health care decisions. We look forward to collaborating with the White House and Commissioner Godfread to improve the health care system for all North Dakotans and deliver individualized, patient-centered health care in a cost-effective manner.”

The executive order is aimed at providing individuals and small businesses relief from three of the most serious problems caused by Obamacare:

  • Variety and access – the executive order seeks to provide Americans with more choices and increased access to health insurance.
  • Decline in small businesses offering health insurance to employees – the executive order seeks to remedy the steep decline in small businesses offering health insurance to their employees by allowing small businesses to join together to form associations and purchase health insurance across state lines.
  • Limited or no availability of lower cost, lower benefit health insurance – the executive order will increase the availability of lower cost, lower benefit, short-term health insurance.

The executive order instructs the federal government to rewrite federal rules for AHPs, a type of insurance in which certain small businesses can band together through an association to negotiate health benefits. It also allows these groups to purchase insurance across state lines. The executive order also seeks to expand the use of HRAs, allowing employers to more widely use pretax dollars to help workers pay for medical expenses. In addition, the availability of short-term insurance policies, which offer limited benefits and are meant to serve as a bridge for people between jobs or for young adults no longer eligible for their parents’ health plans, will be expanded.

“Obamacare has caused serious harm to small businesses and to working individuals who make too much money to receive a federal subsidy,” Godfread said. “I’m pleased that the President has continued to look for ways in which the federal government can provide relief to consumers. I look forward to reviewing the proposed rules and actively working with the Department of Labor and Governor’s Office to best determine how the Department can use the new rules to better serve our consumers.”

The executive order comes three weeks before the Nov. 1 start of open enrollment for the ACA marketplace. Any and all federal rules proposed will be subject to review under the federal rulemaking process, which takes months to complete. Therefore, today’s executive order is not expected to have any effect on health insurance plans being marketed and sold for 2018.