WASHINGTON: Presi­dent Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order aimed at limiting the “burden” of the Obamacare health law that the incoming US leader has vowed to repeal.

During the signing in the Oval Office, Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus described the order as aimed at “minimising the economic burden” of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, “pending repeal.”

Doing away with Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement is a top priority for Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress and, since Trump’s inauguration on Friday, the White House.

In their view, Obamacare — which aimed to ensure healthcare for the millions of Americans who are neither covered by public insurance, nor by their employers — marked a costly drift toward socialised, European-style medical care.

Until lawmakers are able to repeal Obamacare, “it is imperative for the executive branch to... take all actions consistent with law to minimise the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the Act, and prepare to afford the States more flexibility and control to create a more free and open healthcare market,” the executive order said.

The order instructs the US health secretary and other departments and agencies to “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 Act” that imposes a fiscal burden or other cost on a state, on consumers, on insurers or on a range of healthcare providers.

Trump has pledged to start undoing the divisive health law on his first day in office, while also declaring it inconceivable that poor Americans are locked out of coverage. The president has said the law should be repealed and replaced “simultaneously,” a stiff challenge given the complexity of America’s vast health care system.

Obamacare added more than 20 million people onto insurance rolls, lowering the percentage of Americans without coverage from 16 percent in 2010 to 8.9 percent last year.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2017

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