Published: Sat, August 04, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Trump Broke Constitutional Law by Attacking Obamacare, Lawsuit Says

Trump Broke Constitutional Law by Attacking Obamacare, Lawsuit Says

A group of four cities filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his administration for violating the Constitution by attempting to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Other insurers were more neutral, and companies marketing the plans hailed the development.

Many of those people have been priced out of the health insurance market since the ACA took effect, says Joseph Antos, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute.

"We make no representation that it's equivalent coverage", Jim Parker, a senior adviser at HHS told the Associated Press.

In the months since the idea surfaced, it has elicited a wall of opposition from the health insurance industry, hospitals and patient advocacy groups. Next year, there will be no tax penalty for someone who opts for short-term coverage versus a comprehensive plan, so more people might consider the option. A recent study looked at short-term health plans sold in the Charlotte region and found that a lot of them didn't cover benefits for prescription drugs, mental health services, or substance use disorder treatment.

The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to offer 10 essential health benefits including such things as maternity coverage and mental health care. Both can have bigger price differences between older customers and younger ones.

The plans will also carry a disclaimer that they don't meet the Affordable Care Act's requirements and safeguards. Making the plans renewable is a novel twist. Since the Republican-led Congress was unable to repeal large parts of the statute previous year, the administration has ended a significant subsidy for ACA insurers and slashed federal spending on advertising and in-person help to encourage consumers to sign up through insurance marketplaces created by the law. That may not translate to broad consumer appeal among people who need an individual policy.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY says Democrats will "do everything in our power" to stop the Trump administration's expansion of short-term health insurance plans.

The costs of the new plans will be set in the marketplace, but without ObamaCare's mandates they will be cheaper. The CMS projected that 600,000 people will buy the skinny coverage next year. The tax bill approved a year ago by Congress stops this financial penalty as of 2019.

The expanded plans will be able to go on sale in two months, or as long as it takes for state regulators to approve them.

The complaint further alleges that the administration has shirked oversight of insurance rate increases and reduced rebates to consumers, in an effort to raise premiums, create uncertainty, and cause insurers to flee the markets. Three-quarters of respondents to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll said it is "very important" that Obamacare's rule prohibiting insurers from denying coverage due to a person's medical history remains law, while almost that many feel the same way about banning insurers from charging sick people higher rates. They can include dollar limits on coverage. But the policies for individuals have no guarantees of coverage for existing medical conditions and come with limited benefits.

These policies are aimed at people who earn too much to qualify for federally subsidized health plans, a population HHS estimates will likely be about 200,000 people next year but could grow up to 1.6 million by 2024, according to Kodjak. Critics say the plans undermine the health law.

"These new short-term plans are nothing short of junk insurance and are so unsafe for Americans that it's no wonder not a single group representing patients, physicians, nurses or hospitals has voiced support", Schumer said in a statement.

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