Trump Signs Executive Order on Pre-Existing Conditions, Surprise Billing

This week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring it a policy of the federal government to ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions can obtain health insurance of their choice at affordable rates. The order directs specified federal agencies to “build upon existing actions to expand access to and options for affordable healthcare” and “build upon existing actions to ensure consumers have access to meaningful price and quality information prior to the delivery of care.”

The order additionally directs U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to take administrative action to prevent a patient from receiving a medical bill for “out-of-pocket expenses that the patient could not have reasonably foreseen” in the event Congress does not pass legislation on the matter by the year’s end. The order also directs specified agencies to maintain and build upon existing actions to “reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in the healthcare system.”

President Trump framed the order as an “America-First Healthcare Plan,” but health policy experts widely signaled the President’s order falls short on details and has minimal impact on existing legislation and regulations. Additionally, the order comes amid an upcoming legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Recall, the Trump Administration in June filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court petitioning the court to strike down the ACA in its entirety, which, among other actions, prohibits health insurers from refusing insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the case, California v. Texas, on November 10, 2020.

The full executive order from the Trump Administration is available here.