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Baldwin, Murphy Op-Ed in Health Affairs: The Biden Administration Has the Power to Protect Americans from Junk Insurance Plans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed challenges to the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Chris Murphy (D-CT), both members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, authored an op-ed in Health Affairs to highlight the dangers of junk insurance plans that deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, including a COVID-19 diagnosis. Before the next Open Enrollment Period, Baldwin and Murphy are calling on the Biden administration to protect Americans from junk plans by closing the Trump administration’s loophole that allowed them to flood the marketplace.

Last year, the senators urged the Trump administration to cover the COVID-19 treatment expenses for those enrolled in junk insurance plans and called on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) to reevaluate the baseline assumptions and projections it published regarding the use and purchase of junk plans. 

“Never before has health insurance mattered more to Americans. Our nation has been shaken to its core by a pandemic that has taken over 600,000 lives. But the toll of the pandemic cannot be quantified by the death toll alone. That’s because right now, thousands and thousands of people who contracted the virus months ago are still suffering. These ‘long-haulers’ live with severe headaches, constant nausea, brain fog and other after-effects. We are still learning about the long-term prognosis of a COVID diagnosis, and researchers and clinicians are hard at work trying to find answers,” the senators wrote.

“One of the primary reasons why junk insurance plans are so inexpensive is that they don’t have to cover pre-existing health conditions. And they don’t have to cover prescription drugs, mental health or substance use disorder treatment, maternity care, and a host of other basic needs,” the senators continued. “No junk insurance company openly advertises the fact that their coverage can leave people with pre-existing conditions out in the cold, and too often these companies actively mislead consumers.”

“Without immediate action, Americans may unwittingly buy these inadequate plans during the next Open Enrollment Period. And those with COVID histories may buy a plan that refuses to cover them for any expenses related to that condition,” the senators wrote.

“The Biden administration can fix this by taking action, but their window is short to close Trump’s loophole that allowed junk insurance plans to flourish. To make sure that these plans don’t flood the marketplace for the next Open Enrollment Period, the administration needs to roll back these junk plans before the fall,” the senators concluded.

You can read the full op-ed here.