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Trump says he's considering executive actions on virus aid, preexisting conditions

Justin Sink, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump said he will be "pursuing" an executive order in the next two weeks requiring health insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions for all customers.

"That's a big thing," he told reporters at his golf club Friday evening in Bedminster, New Jersey. "We have to cover preexisting conditions. This has never been done before, but it's time the people of our country are properly represented and properly taken care of."

The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare," which the Trump administration is seeking to overturn in court, protects patients with preexisting conditions.

The announcement was one of several executive actions Trump said he's prepared to take. He also said he's prepared to sign executive actions to provide expanded unemployment benefits, a temporary payroll tax deferral, eviction protection and student-loan relief -- if the administration can't reach agreement on a stimulus package with Democrats.

"If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get the American people the relief they need," Trump said.

The president blamed top Democrats -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer -- for failing to agree to a deal.

To act on his own, the president is relying on an expansive and controversial reading of executive power that likely will face legal challenges.

Trump's advisers say executive action could pressure Democrats to reduce their demands and allow him to argue to voters that he's looking out for their well-being amid congressional inaction.

 

On health care, Trump has long promised, but never delivered, a comprehensive health plan. Last month, the president pledged a full health plan that was to have arrived at the start of this week, but did not.

Trump has regularly committed to protect people with preexisting conditions, without saying how -- a promise at odds with Republicans' push to invalidate Obamacare.

Trump continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, which has driven down his polling numbers and has focused more attention on the fragility of employer-provided insurance in the U.S. Polls show him trailing Democrat Joe Biden nationally and in key states. Democrats retook control of the House of Representatives in 2018, focusing heavily on health care.

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