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A Small-Business Owner Who Appeared With Trump At A Health Care Event Says He Was "Duped" And An "Idiot"

"I do not support this executive order. I had absolutely no clue he was adding all the onerous changes. I was duped, I am an idiot."

Posted on October 17, 2017, at 12:42 p.m. ET

Last Thursday, Donald Trump signed an executive order on health care, surrounded by Republicans and business leaders.

Evan Vucci / AP

The White House said the order is "promoting healthcare choice and competition," but many saw it as an attempt to dismantle protections under the Affordable Care Act.

Here's how BuzzFeed News health care reporter Paul McLeod described the order:

President Trump signed an executive order Thursday that could radically transform Obamacare and the American health care system in general, all without having to go through Congress.

Trump’s order will allow small businesses to band together and join their own, unregulated insurance plans that can offer less coverage at cheaper prices. Obamacare rules would not apply to these plans, meaning they can drop coverage for things like maternity care, mental health services, and prescription drugs. Crucially, these off-market plans would open the door for people with preexisting health conditions to be charged higher rates.

That could leave behind a disproportionately sicker, and thus more expensive, group that needs the protections of Obamacare, driving up prices for those still on the small group or individual markets.

One of the small-business representatives who appeared at the signing of the executive order was Dave Ratner, who owns Dave's Soda and Pet City, a chain of seven pet stores in Massachusetts.

Evan Vucci / AP

He was invited to the White House as part of his work with the organization National Retail Federation, which has been pushing for an element of Trump's order that allows small retailers to be able to band together and buy insurance at a bulk rate.

Ratner is a well-known local figure who hosts a TV show about pets.

View this video on YouTube

"It's a zoo in here!" reads the company tagline.

But many Dave's customers reacted quickly on social media to what they saw as their local pet store supporting the repeal of this element of Obamacare.

dear 413: do not shop at @DavesPetCity - he attended the exec order signing and supports it i will never buy anything there again

Some said they would "never" shop at the store again.

Guess I'm NEVER SHOPPING at @DavesPetCity Again. Can't shake the devil's hand and say your only kidding.

Including people who said they were long-term customers.

.@DavesPetCity After many years of patronage, I will be taking my business elsewhere.@Chewy -better prices&values 💜

Ratner then wrote a letter to the editor, published on Mass Live, explaining that he was not a Trump supporter, had not voted for him, and had not realized what was in the full wording of the executive order beyond what his group was lobbying for.

Evan Vucci / AP

"I want to say strongly and clearly: I do not support this executive order," wrote Ratner. "I had absolutely no clue he was adding all the onerous changes. I was duped, I am an idiot. I did not vote for Trump and I am not a Trump supporter. The President's executive order is bad for this region, our residents and our healthcare non-profits. I apologize to my employees, our customers and the community for being at the signing ceremony."

Ratner, who declined to speak with BuzzFeed News, called his decision to appear at the White House as an "error of judgement" in his letter.

Evan Vucci / AP

"Many of the other changes in the Executive Order are likely to make it harder for local residents to get affordable healthcare — the exact opposite of what I was hoping for when I went to Washington," he wrote.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.