While campaigning President Trump vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. As soon as he took over the presidency Trump started watering ObamaCare down and did so before Republicans in the House and Senate tried and failed to at least repeal the law.
As we approach the second year of his four-year term, whispers whip like wind through the hallowed halls of Congress for another push. Positive the House will go along, several groups — 43 of them to be exact — want Republicans to use reconciliation to repeal the law in the Senate.
The group is led by a group called Independent Women’s Voice — that includes Heritage Action, Club for Growth, Americans for Tax Reform and Susan B. Anthony List — sent a letter to the president urging him to fulfill his campaign promises and push the Senate to act.
After hearing about the letter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the body will “probably move on to other issues.”
Knowing that would be McConnell’s likely answer the group added, “We encourage you to move quickly to fulfill your and Congress’s promises to the American people. Health reform must be the focus of the 2019 budget reconciliation instructions. And your administration’s leadership can help the Senate and the House design a bill that can muster the votes needed for passage of true health reform to give Americans more choices of more affordable health coverage and care that meet their needs.”
The administration — meanwhile — is moving in other ways and adding to the watering down Trump did early last year. The Labor Department is proposing a new rule that will allow people that are self-employed or who work for small businesses to buy health insurance that does not conform to ObamaCare requirements. They would also be allowed to form an association based on geography or industry to purchase insurance.
ObamaCare says all insurance plans must have 10 essential benefits like maternity and newborn health care, mental health treatment and prescription drug access. The new rule says the insurance purchased by these individuals, businesses or groups does not necessarily have to possess those benefits.
The rule now has to undergo the public comment process.
The reaction is predictable. Opponents — like insurers, hospitals and medical groups — say the rule will allow young and healthy people to buy cheaper insurance and will leave older, sicker and more expensive people in the ObamaCare markets. That will drive up costs and make health insurance unaffordable for people with pre-existing conditions.
Edwin Park of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said, “Both of these rules would have the effect of seriously undercutting the viability of ObamaCare’s consumer protections by driving up premiums and weakening the risk pools.”
Kaiser Family Foundation vice president Larry Levitt agrees. “The repeal of the mandate and expansion of association health plans and the rise of short-term plans will certainly send premiums rising for middle-class people with pre-existing conditions, whose only option is the [ObamaCare]-regulated market.”
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden — a staunch opponent of just about everything done by the Trump administration — said, “The Trump administration has declared open season for fraudsters selling junk insurance while those with pre-existing conditions will find healthcare further and further out of reach.”
Source links: The Hill — link 1, link 2, Insurance Journal