Breaking: House Education & Labor Committee approves #ShortAssPlan restriction bill

 

Sorry, I'm a little behind the 8-ball today...a few hours ago, the House Education & Labor Committee voted on and approved H.R.1010, which would reverse the Trump Administration's executive order which removed restrictions placed on so-called "short-term, limited duration" (STLD) healthcare policies, commonly known as "junk plans" since most ACA regulations/requirements don't apply.

Again, the short version (no pun intended) is this: Under the Obama Administration, STLDs were restricted to no more than 3 months at a time, and forbid them from being renewed within the same calendar year. They were always intended to be just that: Short-term only, and of limited duration, for certain people in special circumstances only.

Trump, of course, blew all that to hell, opening up the floodgates on STLDs by allowing them to last up to a full 365 days per year (making them no longer short-term) and letting them be fully renewable (making them no longer of limited duration). Since they generally aren't subject to ACA requirements like guaranteed issue, community rating, essential health benefit coverage, minimum actuarial value, can have annual & lifetime limits and so forth--that is, hardly any of the Blue Leg regulations--they naturally are available with lower official premiums.

This was the entire point of Trump cutting them loose in the first place...to flood the market with cheap junk plans, which have the "bonus" effect of weakening the ACA-compliant risk pool as healther enrollees drop out of the ACA market, leaving the sicker enrollees.

Interestingly, H.R.1010 doesn't technically reimpose Obama's 3-month/no renewal limitation executive order to STLDs...what it actually does is simply declare Trump's reversal of Obama's EO to be null and void...while also officially stating that no HHS, Tresaury or Labor Secretary may enforce any "substantially similar rule". Here's the entire bill, verbatim:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT-TERM LIMITED DURATION INSURANCE RULE PROHIBITION.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of Labor may not take any action to implement, enforce, or otherwise give effect to the rule entitled ‘‘Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance’’ (83 Fed. Reg. 38212 (August 3, 2 2018)), and the Secretaries may not promulgate any substantially similar rule.

That's it. That's the whole thing.

Why the bill doesn't actually codify the 3-month/no renewal provisions into law, I'm not sure...there may be some arcane Congressional rule preventing that, or maybe it would've set up a conflict between federal and state rights or something.

Anyway, I believe the bill now goes on to the full House, where I presume it will have no problem passing...and then it'll go to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell won't even allow it to come up for a vote.