The Trump administration plans to unveil on Tuesday rules that make it easier for small businesses to join together to create health insurance plans that offer lower costs, because they do not have to meet many requirements of the Affordable Care Act and provide much fewer benefits, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
As many as 11 million Americans could get coverage under the new “association health plans,” according to the Labor Department, which drafted the rules in accordance with an executive order signed by President Donald Trump last October. However, these plans would not be required to provide certain “essential health benefits” like mental health care, emergency services, maternity and newborn care and prescription drugs.
“The new rule will allow national trade associations to offer insurance to their employer members in multiple states,” Christopher Condeluci, an employee benefits lawyer who used to work for Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, told The New York Times. “Small employers and independent contractors will be able to get coverage through group health plans, just like the insurance offered by large employers.”
Congressional Republicans tried for two decades to legislate such plans, but each attempt has failed, so Trump used his regulatory authority to make it possible.
Consumer groups, many state officials and Blue Cross Blue Shield plans are opposed, saying the new plans will take healthy people out of the Affordable Care Act marketplace and increase costs for those who need comprehensive insurance.
In fact, more than 95 percent of healthcare groups that have remarked on Trump’s new rules criticized or altogether opposed them, according to a Los Angeles Times review of thousands of official comment letters filed with federal agencies.
“Basically, anybody who knows anything about healthcare is opposed to these proposals,” Sandy Praeger, a former Republican state insurance regulator in Kansas and onetime president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, told The Los Angeles Times. “It’s amazing.”
In addition to complaints about additional costs for those who need comprehensive insurance, critics also point out to The New York Times that similar health plans have a history of fraud and abuse that have left both employers and workers with hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid medical bills.
Read on newsMAX