The administration is further undermining the Affordable Care Act, critics claim.
The Trump administration is actively pushing Americans using the Affordable Care Act exchange into "junk" health care plans that may not cover preexisting conditions or key benefits such as hospital stays, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
Some looking for health care plans during open enrollment are being redirected to third-party sites selling so-called "short-term" plans. These plans, which used to be barred from appearing on the exchange, have lower premiums because they may not cover all the benefits Americans have come to rely on since the ACA became law almost a decade ago.
Under the ACA, health care plans must cover 10 essential benefits, which include emergency room visits and maternity care. But the junk plans the Trump administration is pushing people to sign up for may not cover all these benefits, potentially leaving people with high medical bills.
Many consumers "don’t fully understand the lack of protections if they go over some annual or lifetime [insurance] limit," Nicholas Bagley, a professor of law at the University of Michigan, told the Post. The plans also "don’t cover preexisting conditions," he added.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that his administration "will always protect patients with preexisting conditions."
The House of Representatives voted in May to stop the administration from encouraging purchases of these types of plans. The measure, the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019, passed the chamber by a vote of 230-183. Democrats, along with four Republicans, unanimously supported the bill. All the "no" votes came from Republicans.
"We cannot go back to a time when Americans with preexisting conditions can be charged more or denied care," Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH), a lead sponsor of the legislation, said at the time.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to take up the issue.
Critics argue that encouraging junk health insurance plans is just one more way the Trump administration is attempting to sabotage the ACA, according to the Post. Enrollment in ACA plans is down 13% this year compared to last year, and critics contend junk plans are part of the problem.
In addition to pushing people to purchase low-quality plans, the Trump administration supports a lawsuit aimed at repealing the ACA altogether, which would deprive 20 million people of health insurance.
If the Trump-backed suit is successful, protections for everyone with preexisting conditions would disappear.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.