Thirty-nine health policy experts and representatives of a broad cross-section of organizations joined in signing a comment letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding its proposed rule on Short-Term, Limited-Duration Insurance.

They argue that the Obama administration exerted “regulatory overreach” in limiting the sale of short-term policies to 90 days and prohibiting their renewal “in an effort to limit the sale of these policies, constrain consumer choice, and impose federal regulations on a product whose regulation the statute reserves to the states.”

“We hope this will convince CMS to amend its proposed rule to allow, among other things, renewability of short-term policies,” said Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, who helped organize the letter.

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Short-term, limited duration (STLD) health insurance has long been offered to individuals through the non-group market and through associations.  The product was designed for people who experience a temporary gap in health coverage.1  Unlike other products that are considered “limited benefit” or “excepted benefit” policies – such as cancer-only policies or hospital indemnity policies that pay a fixed dollar benefit per inpatient stay – short-term policies are generally considered to be “major medical” coverage; however, short-term policies are distinguished from other comprehensive major medical policies because they only provide coverage for a limited term, typically less than 365 days.  Short-term policies are also characterized by other significant limitations, including the types of services covered, often with a dollar maximum.

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The Trump Administration has been looking for lifeboats for Americans trapped in ObamaCare exchanges, and one project is to expand “association health plans,” or AHPs, that let employers team up to offer coverage. But the fine print in the proposed Labor Department rule is causing concern and needs to be cleaned up.

The issue is whether the Trump rule will let association health plans set prices based on risk, which is how insurance is supposed to work. The point of the rule is to let businesses enjoy the flexibility that large employers have under a law known as Erisa. Under the Affordable Care Act bigger businesses have fared much better than those stuck in the small group market, which is heavily regulated.

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As goes Iowa, so goes the nation — or at least that’s the conventional wisdom during presidential elections. Let’s hope the same rule applies to healthcare reform.

Earlier this month, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law that takes advantage of a major loophole in Obamacare. The legislation, based on a similar effort in Tennessee, enables any Iowan to enroll in a “health benefit plan” sponsored by the Iowa Farm Bureau. Due to a legal technicality, the plans aren’t subject to Obamacare’s premium-inflating regulations.

The reform is a laudable attempt to give consumers an affordable alternative to the plans for sale on Obamacare’s exchanges. Until Congress makes good on its promise to repeal and replace the law, other states can liberate their residents from the law’s financial burdens by following Iowa’s lead.

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Congressional leaders were poised last month to spend tens of billions of dollars in the omnibus bill to temporarily shore up Obamacare’s failing health insurance system.

That money, however, never would have given Americans the long-term relief they so desperately need.

After this idea was struck from the spending bill, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who had worked closely with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to shape a bipartisan deal, said that “the only choice we have is to go back to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.”

We agree. Obamacare is broken and cannot be fixed, and there is a better way forward.

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The Trump administration hopes to move forward with a rule expanding alternatives to ObamaCare plans by this summer, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta said Monday.

The rule allows for small businesses and self-employed individuals to band together to buy insurance as a group in what are known as association health plans.

“We hope to have that by this summer,” Acosta said Monday during a tax reform event alongside President Trump in Florida.

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Congress has been unable to agree on “market stabilization” for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and it was left out of the recently passed omnibus. Yet, a key discussion has been missing from the conversation, the need to rethink the single risk pool in the ACA.

Throwing money at the status quo will simply slow a market decline, which could leave millions with no access to affordable coverage. Splitting subsidized lives from nonsubsidized into two different risk pools could provide structural relief that allows markets to stabilize longer term.

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to “wind down” support for the federal exchanges by the time open enrollment hits in 2019 and shift funding to states.

For that strategy to work, the agency is relying on Congress to do something it failed to do several times last year: Pass an ACA repeal.

CMS detailed its plan in a fiscal year 2019 budget justification (PDF) released this week that outlines a $403 million cut to its program operations budget next year. With less funding to oversee the federal exchanges for plan year 2020, CMS would dole out grants that allow states to “assume more control of their markets and expand enrollment options.”

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Ohio officials asked the Trump Administration on Friday to formally waive the Affordable Care Act individual mandate that requires residents to have health insurance, making it the first state to make such a waiver request.

Ohio’s Legislature called for the 1332 waiver last summer, and Congress zeroed out the financial penalty for not having coverage in its tax bill in December.

“The (tax) legislation zeroed out the penalty that is associated with the individual mandate … but … did not eliminate the mandate itself,” Ohio Department of Insurance Director Jillian Froment said in a March 30 letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “That is why Ohio is submitting an application to waive [the mandate].”

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A new law in Iowa could provide the path forward for Republican-led states that are looking for ways around ObamaCare’s rules and regulations.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) on Monday signed a law that will allow the Iowa Farm Bureau to collaborate with Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield on self-funded “health benefit plans.”

The plans would be cheaper than traditional ObamaCare plans because they wouldn’t be required to meet federal requirements.

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