Trump signs order aimed at boosting rural health care, telehealth

Pressed about his lack of a replacement for Obamacare, Trump also has spent days promising to unveil a health plan of his own, though he declined to detail exactly what that plan would do. Trump on Fox News last month promised a “full and complete health care plan” by this past weekend, but it never arrived. On Monday evening, Trump said that a health care plan will be coming by the end of August, though three officials earlier in the day said the administration does not have plans to imminently produce an Obamacare alternative.

Some elements of the rural health plan have been under consideration for more than two years, but the White House budget office balked at proposals to reform hospital payments, fearing that they would be unworkable in practice. Federal health officials retooled the proposals to demonstrate they would save the federal government money.

Under the new plan, the federal Medicare agency will leverage its authority to test new pilot projects that offer financial incentives for rural providers who deliver higher-quality care to patients. Administration officials believe its new financial model will help keep rural hospitals open, after about 130 have closed in the past decade. The program will be optional, according to three sources, who said the new Medicare payment model would be released as soon as this week. According to the executive order, the project will be announced within 30 days.