Congress demands answers from Trump on health rules

Senator Patty Murray. Senator Ron Wyden, Representative Frank Pallone are Democrats in Congress demanding answers on the Trump administration’s proposed insurance rules.

House and Senate Democratic health leaders sent a letter to the Trump administration today renewing their requests for information on a rule expanding the availability of junk Short-Term, Limited-Duration Insurance (STLDI) plans, which jeopardize Americans’ ability to get quality, affordable health care.

The letter was signed by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), Senate Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Senate HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA).

This is the third letter the Democratic health leaders have written to the administration demanding answers on it’s junk plan proposal, but they have yet to receive all of the information and answers they requested.

“We have written to you on multiple occasions regarding the Administration’s actions to promote these junk plans, and we have not received a substantive response,” the Democrats wrote to the Trump officials. “Families and patients across the country deserve transparency around decisions, such as the finalization of this rule, that jeopardize their ability to get quality, affordable health care.”

The Democrats are asking for answers to a series of outstanding questions including a response to their May 2018 letter that raised concerns regarding the administration’s flawed economic analysis on the expansion of short-term plans.

The Democrats think the administration significantly underestimates the number of people who would sign up for junk short-term plans and the impact it’s proposal would have on premiums in the individual market.

Since these junk plans lure healthy people out of the insurance risk pool, working families who want or need comprehensive coverage will likely see their premiums increase substantially.

The Democrats also noted that they believe the Trump administration’s final rule is illegal, because it allows short-term junk insurance plans to be renewed for up to 36 months.

“Expanding STLDI plans will take us back to the days when consumers could be denied coverage entirely, charged more based on age, gender, or health status, or denied access to basic health care benefits such as prescription drugs, maternity coverage, and treatment for substance use disorders,” the Democrats wrote.

“We believe allowing for renewal or extension of short-term policies for up to 36 months is contrary to law, and that the creation of an entirely unregulated parallel market competing against the market for Qualified Health Plans (“QHPs”) goes against Congressional intent in enacting the comprehensive consumer protections embodied in the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”),” said the letter.

In their letter, the Democrats requested answers to the two outstanding letters from April 2018 and May 2018 as well as information on how the Administration crafted its final rulemaking, including:

All documents and analyses relating to whether it is consistent with the law, including the ACA, to allow for the creation of a permanent parallel market for individual market coverage that is entirely exempt from the law’s consumer protections for individuals with preexisting conditions;

Whether it is consistent with the law, including the Administrative Procedures Act, to promulgate a Final Rule allowing for STLDI plans to be renewable for up to 36 months, when the Proposed Rule made no mention of the Administration’s intent to permit STLDI plans to be renewable for such a term;

Any documents and communications pertaining to the potential impact of the Final Rule, including its impact on premiums in the ACA-compliant market and its impact on individuals with preexisting conditions; and,

A list of all stakeholder meetings pertaining to the subject matter of the Proposed Rule or Final Rule, including meetings with any health insurance issuers that have sold STLDI plans in the past, or have expressed interest in selling these policies in the future.

The Democrats’ letter is available HERE.


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