"I don't think we're going to see changes that would do away with fundamental access to health care," Williams said.
America's Health Insurance Plans, a lobbying group for the industry, issued a pointedly neutral statement on the order, saying "health plans remain committed" to making sure all Americans "have access to affordable coverage and care, including those with pre-existing conditions."
"We will follow these principles — competition, choice, patient protections and market stability — as we evaluate the potential impact of this executive order and the rules that will follow," said Kristine Grow, AHIP's spokeswoman.
But Ceci Connolly, CEO of another group representing health insurers, the Alliance of Community Health Plans, said the order "would not take the steps necessary to ensure much-needed certainty" in the insurance market.
"Instead, it would draw younger and healthier people away from the [Obamacare] exchanges and drive additional plans out of the market," Connolly said.
"In turn, premiums would continue to increase, threatening the security of affordable coverage for millions of working families."
However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest federation of businesses, praised the order for seeking to provide relief to the small group insurance market, which "remains volatile" and has "few choices and increasing premiums."
"Businesses — especially small businesses — continue to struggle to provide health care coverage that their employees value and can afford," said Randy Johnson, a senior vice president at the Chamber of Commerce. "We appreciate the administration's efforts to expand access to more coverage options, lower premiums, and offer greater benefit flexibility."
The National Retail Federation, which was represented at the order signing by one of its members, said Trump's idea of relaxing rules for association health plans "can bring necessary competition to underserved insurance markets."
Dave Ratner, the NRF member who attended the signing, said the order "will help level the health insurance playing field for small businesses across the country."
"Large companies with thousands of employees have their own plans but a small business like mine can't possibly negotiate rates close to what they can get," said Ratner, owner of Dave's Soda and Pet City, a small, Massachusetts-based chain of beverage and pet supply stores.
"By letting associations negotiate for their members, small businesses will finally be able to take advantage of better rates their employees can afford and provide better coverage in the process."
And the industry group Associated Builders and Contractors called the order "a critical first step towards providing more affordable health care options and flexibility to small employers and their employees throughout the country."