by Jonathan Decker
Back in October, President Trump issued an executive order to give Americans a critical escape hatch from Obamacare’s soaring premiums and dwindling insurance options. Now, this same executive order faces significant risk of being watered-down by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) regulatory swamp.
The anchor of President Trump’s health care executive order was a provision allowing consumers to purchase (and renew) short-term limited-duration health insurance (STLD) plans. These plans provide consumers with an affordable health care option because they are exempt from Obamacare’s laundry-list of regulations and coverage requirements. It is because these plans are so affordable that the Obama administration essentially banned them from existence. They knew if STLD plans were on the market, many consumers would choose this option instead of an overpriced Obamacare policy.
President Obama nearly outlawed STLD insurance by mandating that it could only be offered for periods of less than three months and that STLD plans could not be renewed even if you liked your plan. Thankfully, President Trump’s health care executive order called on HHS to repeal the 3-month rule and give consumers the option to renew an STLD plan. But now, President Trump’s HHS is considering a rule that will keep the ban on renewal in place. Let’s hope they reverse course.
An article in RealClearPolitics this week warns that health care could come back to bite the GOP in the midterms, and it may. Although Congress was able to strike the heart of Obamacare with its repeal of the individual mandate, there are still tons of Obamacare taxes and regulations on the books that are driving up insurance costs. Caitlin Huey Burns noted:
Democrats see the issue as the top concern among voters and a turnout driver for their base in congressional races, more so than the drama du jour emanating from the White House. Additionally, Republicans could find themselves squeezed from multiple sides on the issue, from base voters demoralized over the party’s failure to repeal and replace the law to anticipated premium hikes this fall, to members in swing districts where their House vote to undo the Affordable Care Act could be a liability.
Since Congress doesn’t have the votes to repeal Obamacare’s sinking ship, the next best thing that can be done is provide consumers with more lifeboats. Allowing consumers to renew STLD insurance would do exactly that.
If Democrats plan to use health care as an election year wedge issue, the GOP should be prepared to show how they are doing everything possible to lower the health care costs imposed by Obamacare. If we had a booming market of affordable STLD plans (allowing for up to 12 months of coverage as it was pre-Obama and giving consumers the option to renew) it would bolster their case.
President Obama was deservingly mocked for pledging “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” and then reneging on that promise. If someone likes their short-term health insurance plan, they too should be able to renew it.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore