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Four U.S. cities sue over Trump 'sabotage' of Obamacare

06 August 2018
Four U.S. cities sue over Trump 'sabotage' of Obamacare

"This move is the lynchpin in Trump's plan to turn back the clock to the days when Americans with pre-existing conditions were left out in the cold and insurance companies could deny care at will or charge whatever they pleased". Now, short-term plans can span an initial period of less than 12 months and can be extended for 36 months at maximum.

"There are many lawsuits and consumer complaints around the country stemming from unpaid bills" resulting from the short-term plans, Richard Besser, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the biggest USA health philanthropy, said in a letter to the administration opposing the expansion of the plans.

President Donald Trump's plan to reshape Obamacare without repealing the law continued Wednesday, as his administration rolled out its final plan to expand the use of skinny, short-term health insurance coverage.

The Trump administration issued new insurance rules Wednesday morning to encourage more Americans to buy cheap, skimpy health plans originally designed for short-term use.

"We make no representation that it's equivalent coverage", said Jim Parker, a senior adviser at HHS. These rule changes represent his attempts to "reinvent and transform the system we have (with) the tools we have at our disposal" in a way that gives "as many options to individuals as possible".

During the Obama administration, health officials became concerned that, as premiums for ACA health plans were becoming more expensive, some people were starting to rely on these alternatives as an end-run around the comprehensive coverage the law was created to promote.

"'If we don't get it done" in Congress, President Trump has said, "we are going to watch Obamacare go down the tubes, and we'll blame the Democrats. and at some point, they are going to come and say, 'You've got to help us, '" the complaint alleges, adding that Trump has repeatedly stated that Obamacare is "essentially dead".

The new rules are the second tool the administration has devised lately to foster low-price insurance that circumvents the Affordable Care Act's coverage requirements and consumer protections. "When people buy them, they are always going to be disappointed".

Connecticut-based insurers had lobbied the Trump administration, mostly unsuccessfully, to adopt certain consumer protections as it crafted the final regulations for short-term plans this year.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that roughly 6 million more people will eventually enroll in either an association plan or a short-term plan. Of those, 100,000 are now uninsured, and 200,000 will switch from an Affordable Care Act plan. The plans will be less expensive, he said, but "they may not be right for everybody".

In a "stable" environment - in which the federal policies related to the ACA in 2018 remained in place in 2019 - the average monthly premium would have fallen by 4.3 percent in the coming year.

An HHS spokeswoman told NPR the department does not comment on pending litigation, but in an interview on Fox News on Thursday, Secretary Alex Azar asserted the insurance law "is still broken".

Antos and Corlette both say they don't expect the availability of short-term policies to have a major impact on the ACA exchanges. In 2017, the number of people accessing subsidized care via the individual exchange decreased by 20 percent.

Some policy experts, including those from the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University, warn that allowing increased use of the skimpier coverage offered by short-term plans could leave some patients in financial or medical difficulty.

The lawsuit said that rule lacked adequate justification and violated the text of the Affordable Care Act itself. They can include dollar limits on coverage and there's no guarantee of renewal.

Under the Trump administration's rule, these short-term plans will be renewable for up to three years.

57% cover mental health needs.

"It's very much a buyer-beware situation", she said.

Ronnell Nolan, CEO of Health Agents of America, says she's happy her clients have a "viable option" now that the penalty for not having an ACA plan is being eliminated.

Enrollees who get injured or sick are likely to return to the ACA's guaranteed-issue market at open enrollment and buy a plan that covers their condition, further weakening the ACA market.