Trump Administration Proposes Non-ACA Compliant, Short-Term Insurance Plans

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks to the House Ways and Means Committee last week in Washington about the FY19 budget

The proposed regulations would expand an alternative to the comprehensive medical plans required under former President Barack Obama's health law.

Trump previewed the move in October, when he signed an executive order allowing the development of such plans. But these new regulations are a reminder that the Trump administration still has more tools at its disposal to undercut the ACA - risking death by a thousand cuts, as some of the law's supporters have warned.

But health care experts and economists say the plans-which can charge people higher premiums if they have a pre-existing condition, reject them altogether, and refuse to cover basics like emergency room visits and prescriptions drugs-are mainly aimed at enticing people out of Obamacare's individual market.

Insurers will again be able to sell short-term health insurance good for up to 12 months under a proposed rule released Tuesday by the Trump administration that could further roil the marketplace.

"Americans need more choices in health insurance so they can find coverage that meets their needs", Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services, said.

HHS said the plans are a temporary solution for people who are in between jobs or don't like their current policy and searching for long-term alternative.

According to the American Academy of Actuaries, these short-term plans have the potential to drive healthy consumers out of the marketplace, which would destabilize the market and cause premiums to rise for everyone on ACA-compliant plans.

It's a move that the Trump administration and the Department of Health and Human Services say will give people "more options" when it comes to their health care access. Some say they now face monthly, mortgage-size payments of well over $1,000 for health insurance.

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"What we see right now is that there are healthy people sitting on the sidelines without coverage, and this is an opportunity to provide them with coverage", said Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which also administers the Obama-era health law.

Also, short-term plans don't have to offer comprehensive coverage.

"Short-term, limited duration health plans were restricted 3 weeks before President Obama left office".

Administration officials say the goal is to provide cheaper options for Americans who can't find an affordable plan through Obamacare.

Democratic leaders agreed. This "plan is a green light to discriminate against Americans with pre-existing conditions - and will make quality health insurance more expensive and less accessible", said Senator Ron Wyden, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. CMS projects that between 100,000 and 200,000 people will shift from the individual marketplace to short-term plans. "It's probably better to have one of these short-term plans than none at all, '" said Badger, who also is a visiting scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation. This is a commitment not to improve health care for Americans, but to make the lives of the poor and sick miserable because (I believe) too many conservatives have a theological objection to allowing the government to help them.

The difference in premiums between these short-term plans and exchange plans would be significant, Azar noted.

Those with short-term policies are not considered insured under the Affordable Care Act and are subject to the penalty for not having coverage.

Another major change since 2016 is the repeal of ObamaCare's mandate to have insurance, which Republicans did away with in December. "In either case the rule does not increase the number of Georgians with health insurance", he said. But this will not be an issue after this year since Congress effectively eliminated the individual mandate - which requires almost all Americans to be insured or pay a penalty - starting in 2019 as part of its tax overhaul bill. That proposal also stemmed from Trump's executive order and is created to broaden access to what are known as association health plans.

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