Trump’s Health-Care Action

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Response To...

Executive Unilateralism on Health Care

There is nothing wrong in principle with executive orders that clarify how the executive branch is going to exercise the discretion that statutes legitimately give it. Executive orders that rewrite the law in the guise of interpreting it are another matter. The Affordable Care Act granted the executive branch a fair amount of leeway. It was written in a way that, in my view, moves too much policymaking authority from the legislative to the executive branch. Given that the law was written this way, though, I’m in favor of Trump’s using that leeway in the interest of better health policy.

On which side of the line does today’s executive actions fall? On a quick look, I think they’re on the right side of it. But I think it’s right to sound a caution about going too far. The administration is still considering whether to quit enforcing Obamacare’s fines on people without insurance. At Bloomberg View, I argue that changing Obamacare that way would be going too far.

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