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Trump’s Assault on Health Care System Intensifies; Proposed Rule Would Let Insurers Offer Junk Plans

Feb. 20, 2018

Trump’s Assault on Health Care System Intensifies; Proposed Rule Would Let Insurers Offer Junk Plans

Statement of Eagan Kemp, Health Care Policy Advocate, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: The Trump administration’s second “junk plan” rule, proposed today, would expand short-term health care plans, which by the administration’s own account are not “minimum essential coverage.” These inadequate plans can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and set annual and lifetime caps on benefits. Few short-term plans cover prescriptions, and nearly all lack coverage for maternity care, preventive care, substance abuse treatment and mental health. Enrollees who get sick may find themselves responsible for significant expenses, forcing them into debt for care and risking medical bankruptcy.

Today’s proposed rule further sabotages health care in America by damaging insurance markets and allowing unethical insurers to offer false promises that place consumers at risk.

President Donald Trump and his newly minted U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar, continue to endanger the health and well-being of the American people. By doubling down on allowing unethical insurers to issue poorly regulated plans, they are placing our health at risk. Today’s proposed rule, if implemented as drafted, would hurt patients by driving up costs and threatening access to health care for millions.

This rule further destabilizes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces by allowing insurers to offer junk plans targeting the young and healthy without essential health benefits. As a result, only the sick will be covered under plans with full ACA protections, driving up the costs of those plans and potentially making them unaffordable. By allowing the sale of plans that offer only the illusion of coverage, more Americans will face unmet health care needs and many will face medical bankruptcy when they get sick and their plan does not cover the care they need.

Unethical insurers will have every incentive to deceive consumers through issuing these poorly regulated plans and abandoning consumers when they need care most. The public has 60 days to register comments on this unconscionable rule. We must loudly register our disapproval.