The order does not change the law, but could have a significant impact nonetheless. It directs the secretary of health and human services, as well as other agencies, to interpret regulations as loosely as allowed to minimize the financial burden on individuals, insurers, health care providers and others.

It stressed that agencies can "waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay implementation of any provision or requirement" of Obamacare that imposes a burden "to the maximum extent permitted by law."


In keeping with longstanding Republican beliefs, the order also looks to give states more flexibility and control over their health care markets and to allow insurers to offer policies across state lines.

All of these actions will start to shift the nation's health care rules toward Republican ideas. And it will allow the Trump administration to chip away at the law going forward.

However, little can be done until a health secretary -- and other key HHS officials -- are in place to work on changing those guidance and regulations. Trump's choice to lead HHS, Tom Price, faces the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday.


"He has been told that he needs to comply with the law," said Timothy Jost, an emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, "but is directing the agencies to begin taking steps towards reducing regulatory requirements and giving more discretion to the states. It's going to take time."

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