Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Health Care Primer: The Sabotage And Retaliation Edition

Alberto Abin walks out of the Uni Vista Insurance company office after shopping for a health plan under the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare Trump Administration To Stop Paying Some Obamacare Bills
| 15 July, 2018, 13:42

These "association health plans" are just one more facet of Trump's Obamacare sabotage, cheap plans with limited coverage meant to draw healthy people out of the Obamacare markets.

There has been no demonstrable outrage from leading Democrats on Trump's intensifying campaign to transform Medicaid into a cut-rate voucher program or other aspects of the administration's crusade against the poor and dismantling of what remains of the social safety net. The reality is sick people do rack up more health care costs.

Since then, the Labor Department has issued a rule to broaden the use of one such kind of insurance, called "association health plans". Without this program, insurers might have taken on less risk in the market, especially in rural counties. Eligible organizations include small businesses, local chambers of commerce, trade associations, and other community groups.

On Thursday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the latest effort to send ACA markets into the proverbial death spiral. Back in February, a federal judge partially agreed with the insurer and barred the government from making further collections or payments using its current formula. They assisted 42% of enrollees, the agency said. About 20 million Americans have received health insurance coverage through the program.

A professor who follows Obamacare said it is unclear if the payments' suspension will result in higher premiums.

The suspension of risk adjustment payment will also have the effect of destabilizing the ACA marketplace.


Tennessee's market had appeared to be stabilizing with two new insurers entering the market next year and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee said it expected relatively stable rates next year. "In general, when there's uncertainty in the market, insurers will cushion themselves however they can", she said. That's because many ACA customers will qualify for federal government premium subsidies, which are still alive and well in Obamacare.

In its announcement, the CMS reprised arguments it made previous year that navigators, which operate with the annual grants in the 34 states that rely on the ACA's federal insurance exchange, have been ineffective and are less important than they once were: "As the exchange has grown in visibility and become more familiar to Americans seeking health insurance, the need for federally funded navigators has diminished". "This is a time when consumers need more help to understand the insurance options that are available to them - not less". Tuesday's announcement and details in an accompanying grant notice were the first information the CMS has provided this year.

"Given the continued attacks on healthcare, including federal rules allowing the resurgence of low-priced, junk health insurance plans, such as "association health plans" and "short-term plans", consumers looking for good, comprehensive coverage could be easily confused", Frederick Isasi, executive director of Families USA, a Democrat-leaning healthcare advocacy organization, told CNN.

These plans, however, aren't required to have the same consumer protections as ACA policies.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

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