06.14.18

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Leads Letter To Trump Administration On ‘Junk’ Health Insurance Plans

Proposal can harm people with pre-existing conditions, raise costs on older Americans

More than 98% of the health care groups that commented on the proposal expressed criticism, in many cases warning that the rule could gravely hurt sick patients

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today joined Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to lead a letter signed by 44 other Senators urging the Trump administration to halt the implementation of a health care proposal that could threaten access to quality, affordable care for Americans, especially those with pre-existing conditions. The proposal would mean the expansion of previously limited short-term health insurance plans to year-long “junk” plans that can exclude basic health benefits including hospitalization, prescription drugs, maternity care and substance abuse treatment.

During the open comment period on the proposed rule, health care experts overwhelmingly condemned the administration’s plan, asserting the expanded sale and marketing of short-term “junk plans” will negatively affect coverage.

“On the proposal to expand the sale and marketing of short-term, ‘junk plans,’ as we previously expressed, this rule could harm people with pre-existing conditions, raise costs on older Americans, and promote plans that exclude basic benefits including hospitalization, prescription drugs, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and maternity care,” the Senators wrote in a letter to the Secretaries of the Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor. “…This rule should not be finalized and implemented because it threatens access to quality, affordable care for millions of Americans. Instead, we ask you again to work with us to improve our health care system and lower health care costs for American families.”

The Senators expressed serious concerns with the administration’s plan to allow the sale and marketing of short-term “junk” health insurance plans, citing the Los Angeles Times analysis that found the comments submitted to the Center for Medicare and Medicare Services about the rule were overwhelmingly critical, and that “[n]ot a single group representing patients, physicians, nurses or hospitals voiced support in the public comments for the two Trump administration proposals.”

The Times’ analysis found that 233 patient and consumer advocates, 17 physician groups, 30 nursing associations, 11 hospital groups and 41 groups representing other medical providers, such as physical therapists, social workers, physician assistants and multiple sclerosis clinics filed critical comments. More than 98% of the health care groups that commented on the proposal expressed criticism, in many cases warning that the rule could gravely hurt sick patients.

In March following the Trump administration’s proposed rule to allow insurers to sell junk insurance plans, Senator Baldwin introduced the Fair Care Act to block the rule and guarantee protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Baldwin’s legislation would prohibit Trump’s proposed rule expanding access to short-term, limited duration plans from taking effect and would implement protections to ensure that short-term plans are only offered in limited circumstances as well as newly require these plans to comply with basic consumer protections.

The Urban Institute found that both expanding access to short-term plans, as well as the actions that President Trump and Congressional Republicans have taken to date to sabotage the health care system would increase premiums and result in more uninsured Americans. In Wisconsin, premiums would go up by an average of 20 percent in 2019, and 130,000 more Wisconsinites would lack comprehensive health coverage in 2019 because they would either become uninsured or would be enrolled in junk plans that don’t provide key health benefits.

For more than a year, Senator Baldwin has repeatedly called on the Trump Administration to stop the sabotage of our nation’s health care system. She has been sounding the alarm about these destructive efforts, in particular President Trump’s decision to end cost-sharing reduction payments that have made health care more affordable for 110,000 people in Wisconsin.

Full text of the letter is available here.