Here’s what the Department of Health and Human Services could do:
- Relax rules so companies of all sizes can take advantage of HRAs. Medium-sized and large employers want the same option of setting up HRAs for workers to buy ACA coverage, said Chris Condeluci, who worked on the ACA as a Senate GOP staff attorney.
- Now that the individual mandate has been repealed, the administration could open the door for companies “to provide funds to buy noncompliant coverage,” said Gary Claxton, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
. . .
Earlier this week, the Trump administration restored Obama-era rules that allow individuals to buy affordable insurance plans that aren’t bound by Obamacare’s costly regulations. Here’s the low-down on how those plans could affect your insurance choices.
Overcharging the healthy to undercharge the sick
Obamacare’s most significant change to the U.S. health care system was that it introduced an entirely new layer of federal regulations for individuals and families who buy their own health insurance directly, instead of getting it from their employer or from a government program like Medicare or Medicaid. Prior to 2014, these “individual market” or “nongroup” plans were regulated solely at the state level.
. . .
Doug Badger, a senior fellow at the free-market Galen Institute, told LifeZette that the proposed rule change is the latest evidence that Trump is moving wherever possible to undo Obamacare restrictions on the health insurance market.
“I think the Trump administration is saying, ‘You know what? It’s probably better to have one of these short-term plans than none at all,’” said Badger, who also is a visiting scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Badger said the Obamacare changes reflected Obama’s philosophy of one-size-fits-all health care.
“They want people to be either uninsured or have Obamacare policies,” he said.
. . .
The Trump administration moved on Tuesday to deliver affordable health care to millions of Americans with a proposed rule that would expand the availability of short-term, limited duration plans to one year.
The rule comes as a result of the president’s executive order calling on federal agencies to take the necessary measures to scale back Obamacare’s burdensome regulations.
. . .
Obama Care survived a GOP repeal attempt but the law’s prognosis remains poor—higher premiums and insurer flight. Some Republicans would be happy to dump money into the exchanges and move on, so credit the Trump Administration for a proposal that puts consumer choice ahead of politics.
On Tuesday the Health and Human Services Department proposed a rule for short-term, limited duration health insurance as an alternative to the ObamaCare exchanges. Insurers would have to make clear that the plans, which could last for less than 12 months, would be liberated from the Affordable Care Act’s benefit and other mandates.
. . .
Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) were created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to improve the efficiency of the networks of hospitals and doctors that deliver services to Medicare patients and thereby lower the government’s costs. So far, however, ACOs haven’t produced any savings for the federal government. ACOs would become more efficient and innovative if they were forced to compete with the other options beneficiaries have for getting their Medicare-covered benefits.
. . .
The White House budget for fiscal 2019 seeks major savings by repealing ObamaCare and endorsed a Senate GOP bill as the best way to do so.
“The Budget supports a two-part approach to repealing and replacing Obamacare, starting with enactment of legislation modeled closely after the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (GCHJ) bill as soon as possible,” the White House said in its budget request.
The legislation from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) would replace ObamaCare with a series of block grants to states.
. . .
House Republicans are in discussions about repealing or delaying ObamaCare’s employer mandate to offer health insurance, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said Tuesday.
Brady told reporters that he has discussed the idea with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, as well as other members of the Ways and Means Committee.
“We’ve discussed that with him as well as committee members, so yeah, there is that discussion, and I’d like to see us make progress there,” Brady said.
. . .
Idaho has a maverick plan to let insurers sell plans that don’t meet Obamacare coverage rules and patient protections to give more health insurance options to citizens who can’t afford the expensive Obamacare policies. Gov. Butch Otter issued an executive order to authorize a state-level version of the “Cruz amendment,” which Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) offered to the Better Care Reconciliation Act during efforts to repeal the ACA last year. The amendment would have allowed insurers to offer non-ACA-compliant plans in the individual market so long as they also offered plans through the marketplace. Other conservative states are keeping a close eye on the option. HHS Secretary Alex Azar said he would closely scrutinize Idaho’s plan, but he said it was too early to know what action he might take.
. . .
The budget deal in Congress is billed as a measure to grant stability to a government funding process that has lurched from crisis to crisis — but it is also stuffed with provisions that will broadly affect the nation’s health care system, like repealing an advisory board to curb Medicare spending and funding community health centers. Among the more significant provisions is one that would eliminate a powerful 15-member panel, known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board, created by the ACA to control the rising costs of Medicare. The board was to recommend specific savings if Medicare spending per beneficiary was projected to grow faster than certain benchmarks. Congress could have stepped in to block the recommendations, but they did not need congressional approval to take effect. The power of the board gave pause to politicians in both parties, and health care providers and some advocates for Medicare beneficiaries said it could threaten patients’ access to care.
. . .