The other shoe in Donald Trump's war on Obamacare is about to drop. It will end Obamacare as we know it.
The first step in ending this obnoxious, intrusive program was to end the requirement that everybody has to have health insurance coverage. Thanks to deft maneuvering by a unanimous Senate majority, this diktat was lifted in the Christmas tax cut.
Now, the send step is about to happen: Trump will eliminate the requirement that all Obamacare policies cover everything — from psychological counseling to drug addiction therapy to maternity benefits to smoking cessation to sex reassignment operations — whether the customer wants it or can afford it or not.
It is this requirement — enacted at the behest of the various lobbyists representing the provider organizations — that has forced the cost of Obamacare to skyrocket, triggering the need for massive taxpayer subsidies, and putting its premiums and deductibles, even after the federal subsidy, out of reach for many Americans.
But, soon you will be able to buy what coverage you want from Obamacare without restriction or buy nothing at all.
All of the prodigious efforts of Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and others to make these changes by amendment are now being swept up in a massive rules change by the administration.
With this change, Obamacare could become just one of the many options consumers have — and not a particularly bad one at that.
To make this change work within the current statutory language, Trump will loosen the rules governing small businesses. They can band together to buy health insurance through association health plans. This change, recommended in this column for months, will allow them to circumvent Obamacare's regulations. Under the new rules, associations will be able to buy cheaper health insurance that won't cover the 10 "essential" health benefits mandated in Obamacare.
Trump is also expected to allow the expansion of emergency short-term health insurance plans, allowing them to last for an entire year with the possibility of a renewal. These plans would be exempt from the regulations governing Obamacare policies, meaning that insurers will be able to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions. (But, don't worry, those with major pre-existing conditions — which make policies unaffordable — will still be able to get low-cost coverage through the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Program created by Obamacare. This program was unaffected by the current regulations. Currently, over 100,000 people are covered by PCIP.
If, as Democrats contend, President Trump is losing it mentally, he must still have something upstairs to come up with so deft a way of reforming Obamacare by regulation.