The Hill: “Dem AGs Rip Proposed Trump Rule on Health Plans”
March 8, 2018
As published by The Hill, on March 7, 2018.
A coalition of 17 Democratic state attorneys general is blasting a proposed Trump administration rule to allow health plans to circumvent certain ObamaCare rules.
The group, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, said the proposal is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the health-care law.
The proposal “is nothing more than an unlawful end run around the consumer protections enshrined in the Affordable Care Act, part of President Trump’s continued efforts to sabotage the ACA,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
In a formal comment letter, the group called on the Labor Department to hold public hearings on the impact of the proposal before finalizing any changes.
Under the proposal released in January, small businesses and self-employed individuals would be allowed to join together in what are known as “association health plans” (AHPs).
Those associations would be allowed to purchase cheaper health insurance not subject to some of ObamaCare’s consumer protections, like the requirement to cover 10 essential health benefits, including mental health care, substance abuse treatment, maternity care and prescription drugs.
Republicans blame those rules for rising insurance premiums.
The administration said the proposal could make insurance available for up to 11 million people who lack employer-sponsored coverage.
In the letter, the attorneys general said AHPs “have a long and notorious history of fraud, mismanagement, and deception” and noted that Congress has spent decades passing laws to protect health consumers.
“The proposed rule would reverse many of these critical consumer protections and unduly expand access to AHPs without sufficient justification or consideration of the consequences,” they wrote.
Health experts have warned that the proposal could cause an upheaval in ObamaCare’s insurance markets because the AHPs would likely cherry pick only young, healthy people.
Leaving less healthy people in the individual and small group markets would likely drive up those premiums.
AHPs could also decline to cover prescription drugs, which could discourage sick people from enrolling. Unlike ObamaCare plans, AHPs could also charge higher premiums based on age and gender.