- The Washington Times - Friday, June 14, 2019

President Trump announced Friday that he’ll expand special health reimbursements for small businesses to allow up to 11 million workers to purchase insurance, contrasting it with what he called Democrats’ “socialist model” for rationing healthcare services.

In an event in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Trump promoted the expansion of health reimbursement arrangements, or HRAs, which are funded by employers with pretax dollars. Due to restrictions imposed by the Obama administration, many workers have been unable to use HRAs to pay for health insurance.

“We are dramatically increasing the ability of Americans to access more affordable health insurance through options and through their employers,” the president said. “HRAs will allow American workers to shop for the plan that’s right for them and their family and have their employer cover the cost. And it’s a reasonable cost, and people are going to be getting tremendous benefits.

“The audience of administration officials and small business leaders sang “Happy Birthday” to the president as he entered the Rose Garden, marking Mr. Trump’s 73rd birthday.

“That is very, very nice,” the president told them. “You must like what I’m about to say.

“The administration estimates that about 800,000 employers eventually will take advantage of the rule, covering up to 11 million employees and family members. The move will take effect in January, and will allow workers to purchase plans that don’t comply with some of Obamacare’s consumer protections.

The action also comes as Mr. Trump seeks more support from women voters in his reelection bid. Polls have shown him lagging significantly among women voters, who generally rate health care as a priority.

The president said his proposal is based on the principle that “American families must always have the right and the power to choose the very best treatments plans, doctors, for themselves and for their loved ones.”

“I’ve repeatedly called on Congress to work with us to bring down the cost of health care and prescription drugs,” he said. “Instead, more than 120 Democrats in Congress have signed up for the Bernie Sanders massive government takeover of healthcare,” referring to the Democratic presidential candidate’s “Medicare for all” plan.

“That’s going to hurt a lot of people,” Mr. Trump said. “Socialist healthcare would crush American workers with higher taxes, long wait times and far worse care. Their plan would eliminate Medicare as we know it, and terminate the private health insurance of 180 million Americans. We will never let that happen. We will never be a socialist country.

“He said Americans “have to reject the socialist model that rations care, restricts access, slashes quality… instead, we believe in freedom. We believe in choice, we believe in the highest standard of care in the world, anywhere in the world. We believe in freedom. And that’s exactly what today’s action is all about.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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