Last spring, while attempts to formally repeal Obamacare were flailing in Congress, the Trump administration showed Republicans their secret plan to take apart the health law using President Trump's authority.
"While the effort to scrap Obamacare often looked chaotic, top officials had actually developed an elaborate plan to undermine the law — regardless of whether Congress repealed it," reported Politico on Wednesday, revealing the contents of a previously secret March 23 memo.
The detailed blueprint, shared with members of the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, listed 10 executive actions Trump planned to take to “improve the individual and small group markets most harmed by Obamacare," a euphemism for discouraging signups and dismantling certain aspects of the health law.
They included: Stricter verification of people signing up for insurance outside of the open enrollment period; cutting the sign-up period in half; and allowing states to waive insurers' obligation to provide the essential benefits required by Obamacare.
The memo was created to woo House conservatives, who were about to vote on the first plan to repeal Obamacare but were concerned that GOP plans weren't conservative enough. Obamacare supporters railed against such proposals, arguing they would make insurance harder to get.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) obtained the document and shared it with the press. “The primary problem here is government officials, government agencies, were taking steps that would lead to fewer people having coverage and erecting barriers to people having coverage,” he said. “In addition to that, you have kind of a closed-door, back-room slimy deal here that should trouble anyone.”
On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services said it was committed to providing Americans "relief and access to affordable health care" but didn't comment on their plans to implement any remaining policies. “Under the Trump administration, HHS has been and remains committed to any and all actions, within the confines of the law, to provide relief and access to affordable healthcare for all Americans,” said HHS press secretary Caitlin Oakley.