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Health Care Group Slams Trump's "Skinny" Insurance Plans

Health-access groups worry that allowing skimpy, cheaper plans would drive up costs for the majority of consumers, especially older people with pre-existing conditions. (Cathy Yeulet/iStockphotos)
Health-access groups worry that allowing skimpy, cheaper plans would drive up costs for the majority of consumers, especially older people with pre-existing conditions. (Cathy Yeulet/iStockphotos)
February 21, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Activist groups say President Donald Trump's proposal to allow cheaper, low-benefit health care plans is just another attempt to upend the Affordable Care Act – and they predict it will drive overall prices up, not down.

On Tuesday, the administration proposed a rule change that would exploit a loophole in the ACA that allows short-term policies that don't comply with the minimum coverage requirements.

The new rule would extend them to 364 days.

Frederick Isasi, executive director of the health advocacy group Families USA, says these so-called skinny plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, have no annual or lifetime spending limits and can leave people with massive debts.

"They tend to exclude many, many more things than just maternity care,” he points out. “They exclude things like mental health care, in-patient hospital stays, things that have huge costs to families."

The president's supporters say this will give people a low-cost option and predict only about 100,000 to 200,000 people will sign up.

This follows the GOP decision to lift the individual mandate to buy insurance as part of the tax bill.

Isasi believes these two moves are designed to destabilize the health-care system by siphoning off young, healthy people from the much larger insurance market.

"What this threatens to do is pull some of the healthiest people who are lowest risk out of the existing pool and make coverage much more expensive for folks who might be higher cost or have higher needs," he explains.

The administration reportedly is considering allowing the so-called short-term plans to be renewed indefinitely. The proposed regulation is now open for public comment for 60 days, on regulations.gov.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA