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President Trump’s small-business health insurance plan struck down

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 25: (AFP OUT) US President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks before signing an order recognizing Golan Heights as Israeli territory, in the presence of Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (unseen) in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House Trump signed an order recognizing Golan Heights as Israeli territory.Netanyahu is cutting short his visit to Washington due to a rocket attack in central Israel that had injured seven people. (Photo by Michael Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — A federal judge is striking down the Trump administration’s highly touted small-business health insurance plan, calling it an “end run” around consumer protections.

The ruling Thursday by U.S. District Judge John Bates in Washington, D.C., is the second setback in a week for the administration’s health care initiatives. On Wednesday another federal judge blocked Medicaid work requirements for low-income people.

At issue in the latest ruling are so-called “association health plans,” in which businesses and sole proprietors can band together to offer lower-cost coverage that doesn’t provide all the benefits required under the Affordable Care Act.

President Donald Trump has hailed the small-business plans as a big success, but their impact is difficult to measure.

Unable to repeal the Obama health law in Congress, the Trump administration has tried to use its rule-making powers to create room for alternatives.

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