President Trump has issued an executive order for federal agencies to lift all Obamacare requirements from states, individuals, healthcare providers and insurers as they're able, until the healthcare law can be repealed.
The move doesn't erase any parts of the Affordable Care Act from the books, but it does signal that Trump is serious about doing away with much of the healthcare law as soon as possible.
An order issued Friday night says the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies involved in carrying out the law "shall exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement" of the law that fiscally "burdens" virtually anyone.
As they're able, agencies should try to lift any Obamacare provisions that involve a "fiscal burden on any state or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications," the order says.
Congress is working to repeal big parts of the Affordable Care Act, but it will take several more weeks at the very least before Republicans will have legislation ready to pass and for Trump to sign.
Trump wrote in his order that he's seeking the "prompt repeal" of the law, but said that through issuing the executive order he wants to "minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the act" and gives states "more flexibility and control to create a more free and open healthcare market."
While there are a number of changes HHS Secretary nominee Tom Price and other Trump appointees could make to the law, most of those changes would take some time as they must be carried out through the federal rule-making process. That process typically takes months, as it involves issuing draft rules, gathering public feedback and ultimately issuing a final rule.
Besides suggesting that authorities should allow insurance to be sold across state lines, the executive order doesn't give specifics about how the healthcare system should be amended. Instead, it lays out a broad directive for agencies to minimize any Obamacare requirements under their jurisdiction, as they're able to under the law.
"To the maximum extent permitted by law, the head of each department or agency...shall encourage the development of a free and open market in interstate commerce for the offering of healthcare services and health insurance, with the goal of achieving and preserving maximum options for patients and consumers," the order says.