Affordable Care Act

Trump administration loosens rules for ACA waivers

A man helping people sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Trump administration is giving states more leeway to waive some of the Affordable Care Act's rules — a move that could ultimately advance some of the same policy objectives Republicans had pursued in their failed repeal-and-replace effort last year.

Why it matters: This revamped waiver process will open the door to more conservative proposals that primarily benefit healthier consumers. States could, for example, redirect the ACA's insurance subsidies toward cheaper, skimpier plans with fewer consumer protections, and away from ACA-compliant coverage.

How the ACA went from unpopular to (sort of) popular

Adapted from Kaiser Family Foundation. Note: Margin of error typicallly ±3 percentage points. Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested this week that Republicans might take another run at repealing the Affordable Care Act if they win more seats in November, it was a good line for Republican voters — but not for the rest of the public.

Between the lines: The law really was unpopular throughout most of Barack Obama's presidency — especially in late 2013 and 2014, when the website was crashing and people's individual health plans were being canceled. But look when it became more popular again: right after Donald Trump became president. And it still is, even though Republican voters still want to repeal it.