CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order aimed at helping Americans with pre-existing conditions with their healthcare coverage, among other things, during his trip to Charlotte Thursday.
The order, according to the White House, is first attempt in American history to make it the policy of the United States to protect those with pre-existing conditions as part of the president’s newly announced America First Healthcare Plan.
This is especially important, officials say, if the Affordable Care Act is struck down. The president has repeatedly vowed to replace the ACA with a “much better plan.”
The other executive order the president signed while in Charlotte addressed protection from surprise medical billing.
WBTV spoke with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar who clarified that these executive orders are not laws, but act as requests. Azar says President Trump would have to work with Congress if he wants to sign these things into law.
The news came as the president returned to North Carolina for his 14th official visit.
Air Force One touched down at Charlotte Douglas International Airport just before 4:30 p.m. President Trump was then taken via motorcade to a nearby stage at the airport where he officially announced, and later signed, the new Executive Order.
“Today I’m laying out my vision for the future of American healthcare with the America First Healthcare Plan,” Trump said. “As we restore America to full strength, the first healthcare plan will be the core part of our national renewal.”
The president said the new plan will offer “more choice,” freedom to shop for options, cost 60% less than the ACA and will pool small business plans. He added that premiums for healthcare will be fully tax deductible.
“And with a massive reimbursement of healthcare Millions of Americans will be able to shop for a plan of their choice in the individual market and then have their employer cover the full cost, I work to make individual healthcare premiums fully tax deductible, that will be a big difference," Trump added.
Trump said the plan has three main pillars:
- More choice for American patients
- Lower cost for families and seniors
- Better care for American patients
The president said that under the plan, 33 million Medicare beneficiaries would receive a card in the mail worth $200 to help pay for prescription drugs. He said a new rule would also allow cheaper importation of prescription drugs from Canada.
“This will be a game changer for American seniors,” the president said.
If the Executive Order is not made law by January 1, officials say, President Trump would give Secretary Azar the full power of the U.S. Government to protect patients from surprise billing. The president is instructing Congress to act.
“The President will always protect people with pre-existing conditions,” Azar said.
Peter Hoffman, the White House Director of Regional Communications, had previously said Trump would visit Charlotte Thursday to discuss his administration’s action and vision in “delivering quality healthcare at low costs for the American people.”
The president recently hosted a “Great American Comeback” event in Fayetteville this past weekend.
In the past few weeks, Trump has visited Charlotte, the Asheville area, Wilmington and Winston-Salem during his trips to the Tar Heel state. Thursday marks President Trump’s 14th official visit to North Carolina.
His opponent in the November presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden, visited Charlotte on Wednesday.