UPDATE: From the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative:
“Today, the Trump administration took a deliberate step to sabotage the insurance market and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. This Executive Order will allow association health plans to offer insurance that does not provide essential health benefits such as mental health care and maternity care. Consumers could end up purchasing these plans only to later find that they do not provide basic coverage for health conditions like cancer. The Executive Order will also create consumer confusion as they may be tricked into buying limited-benefit plans that don’t provide real health insurance coverage. This will destabilize the individual market as it opens the door for people to buy substandard coverage while leaving the individual market with an unhealthy risk pool and skyrocketing premiums.”
“Rather than helping hard-working Americans, the administration’s Executive Order will lead to some Coloradans buying junk insurance that leaves them without the care they need while others will be left paying much higher premiums. Insurers have already been struggling with the uncertainty created by senseless repeal efforts and other actions by this administration, and this will only increase uncertainty and instability in the individual market.”
“The Trump Administration is not ‘letting’ Obamacare fail. It is actively sabotaging the health insurance market. Everyday Americans will suffer as premiums spike and plans that provide comprehensive benefits become unaffordable or evaporate altogether. It is up to Congress and all of us to raise our voices against this overt destruction of our health care system.”
Politico reports on today’s executive order from President Donald Trump, which could set in motion a series of events very troubling for health insurance markets–helping keep Trump’s promise to destroy the Affordable Care Act, but with lots of collateral damage:
President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order directing an overhaul of major federal health regulations, calling it the first step toward fulfilling the GOP’s promise to repeal Obamacare.
The order is aimed at encouraging the rise of a raft of cheap, loosely regulated health insurance plans that don’t have to comply with certain Obamacare consumer protections and benefit rules. They’d attract younger and healthier people — leaving older and sicker ones in the Obamacare markets facing higher and higher costs…
It’s not yet clear how far the administration will go, or how quickly it can implement the president’s order. But if successful, the new rules could upend the way businesses and individuals buy coverage — lowering premiums for the healthiest Americans at the expense of key consumer protections and potentially tipping the Obamacare markets into a tailspin.
“Within a year, this would kill the market,” said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation who previously worked at former President Barack Obama’s Health and Human Services Department. [Pols emphasis]
Like a game of Jenga, pulling out individual components of the interlocking framework of risk sharing set up by the Affordable Care Act could cause the whole system to come crashing down–something that is already a threat largely due to the refusal by Republicans in Washington to take any action to stabilize insurance markets, and years of inaction to address routine implementation issues that have cropped up since the ACA was passed in 2010. What this means politically is that Republicans have by any reasonable measure lost the ability to blame the 2010 law and Democrats who passed it for problems occurring today. After so many failed opportunities to replace or just fix easily-addressed problems with the ACA, it’s Republicans who own it now–although you could argue that they owned as soon as they started stripping funding from the law during high-stakes fiscal negotiations with the Obama administration.
So in the event that Trump’s order today to promote cheap health plans that don’t meet the ACA’s coverage standards wreaks havoc on Colorado’s insurance markets, driving up the cost of care for sick people and returning others to the “bad old days” of chintzy health plans that proved useless when actually needed, Coloradans can thank Cory Gardner. After all, it’s exactly what Gardner has repeatedly claimed he wanted. Blaming Obama when this plan comes apart as the experts predict won’t be easy!
Then again, none of this is intended to make health care better. That will be obvious soon enough.