But the White House kept up its attacks on the health care law.
According to the administration, this would help people facing soaring premiums.
But the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land for now, and the president said he still wants to see it gone. With people's lives at stake, the health care question is a microcosm for the larger battle between unregulated capitalism and state intervention.
"Today is only the beginning", Trump said at the Oval Office signing ceremony.
Trump has been frustrated by Republicans' failure to repeal and replace the law known as Obamacare, thwarting a promise he made during the 2016 campaign.
"Hundreds of thousands of NY families rely on the Affordable Care Act's subsidies for their health care - and again and again, President Trump has threatened to cut off these subsidies to undermine our healthcare system and force Congress to the negotiating table". One bipartisan group has been working to find a solution to preserve these payments and shore up the markets.
"This is promoting healthcare, choice and competition all across the United States..." Experts also questioned whether Trump has the legal authority to expand association health plans. Self-employed people might be able to join.
"These short-term policies are going to be attractive to generally younger people", explained Brookings' Center for Health Policy fellow Matthew Fiedler. Those policies are not subject to current federal and state rules that require standard benefits and other consumer protections.
"This could be much ado about nothing, or a very big deal, depending on how the regulations get written", said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
Several insurers have cited uncertainty over the payments in hiking premiums for 2018 or exiting insurance markets altogether.
But economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the center-right American Action Forum, said it looks like the impact will be on market niches, not the broad landscape of health insurance.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, issued a joint statement criticizing Mr. Trump for a move that could increase premiums by 20 percent for some families.
"This executive order gives victims of Obamacare greater control of their healthcare options and works to create a more affordable system", she said.
Paul attended the White House ceremony and was honored by Trump with a pen used to sign the executive order. However, he refused to vote for the most recent legislation repealing it on the grounds it was too weak.
This additional assistance can be especially important because many low-cost health plans force consumers to pay very high deductibles before their medical care is covered.
But opponents say the order will undermine coverage offered to millions enrolled in the ACA. Almost 9 million of those consumers receive tax credits under the Obama law and are protected from higher premiums.
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