U.S. President Donald Trump plans to sign two executive orders on Thursday to improve healthcare coverage for Americans, Health and Human Services Secretary Azar said, as he seeks to boost his flagging credibility with voters on the hot-button issue ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election, APA reports citing Reuters.
Trump will sign an executive order aimed at ensuring Americans with pre-existing conditions retain healthcare coverage, Azar said on Thursday, even as his own administration seeks to strike down the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which protects the same right.
It was not immediately clear whether the White House had the legal authority to mandate coverage of such conditions through an executive order.
Azar also said Trump was directing him via a second executive order to work with Congress to pass legislation banning surprise healthcare bills by the beginning of next year, and explore executive action to address the goal if the legislative bid fails.
“What the president is saying is that all the relevant players - hospitals, doctors, insurance companies - had better get their act together, and get legislation passed through Congress that protects patients against surprise medical bills,” Azar told reporters on a briefing call. “He’s telling them: Get your act together. Get something passed, or we’ll be coming at it, and you’ll get what you get from us.”
Trump lags Democratic rival and former Vice President Joe Biden in national opinion polls, especially on the question of who would better handle American healthcare. The president, who has been criticized for not following through on promises to lay out an alternative to Obamacare, will give remarks in Charlotte, North Carolina, on his “America First healthcare vision” later on Thursday.
In June, the Trump administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the Obamacare law that added millions to the healthcare safety net, a move that could scrap coverage during the coronavirus crisis.
The Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, prohibited health insurers from denying coverage to Americans with known health conditions.
Surprise bills occur when patients visit a hospital they believe is in their health insurance network but then are seen by a doctor or specialist who is out of network. Trump previously called on Congress to address the issue in 2019.