10.10.18

Alexander: Democrats Try to Block 1.7 Million Uninsured Americans from Buying More Affordable Health Insurance in 2019

Rule on short-term policies does not change a single word of Obamacare's protections for pre-existing conditions

“Even after the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, President Obama and the Democratic Congress thought it was a good enough idea to allow these short-term plans to continue that they kept them in the law.”

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You can watch Senator Alexander’s floor remarks here. 

WASHINGTON, October 10, 2018—Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said lower-cost short-term health insurance plans, which Democrats today tried to block Americans from buying, were available to Americans during the entire Obama administration.

“If you lost your job and couldn't afford insurance during the Obama years, if Obamacare got too expensive during the Obama years, you could buy insurance for up to a year if your state allowed it. Today Democrats are saying, ‘We're not going to do what President Obama would do. We're going to keep your insurance high today with a yes vote. We're going to say to 1.7 million people that you can't buy insurance because we know more than you do,’” Alexander said.

“I hope that across this country, as Americans look at this today you would ask Democrats: ‘Why do you want to kill a rule that President Obama favored that existed all during Obamacare while he was there, that gave people who might lose their jobs or couldn't afford Obamacare a chance to buy insurance that might be 70% cheaper?’ Why would you want to keep 1.7 million Americans who won't have insurance in 2019, according to the Urban Institute, from being able to buy these short term plans? What have you got against lower-cost insurance that doesn't change one word of the Affordable Care Act's protection guarantee for pre-existing conditions? In other words, with this rule, if you have a pre-existing condition and want to buy Obamacare, you've got it. This could not possibly change that because it is a rule, not a law. This is the Trump rule, but also the Obama rule—the rule that supports the Wisconsin, Oklahoma, or Alaska plumber who makes $60,000 a year, can't afford $20,000 a year Obamacare, gets no government subsidy, and needs this in order to insure his family.”

Sen. Alexander made his remarks on the Senate floor this morning before the Senate voted down a Democrat resolution to take this option away from those Americans.

Background:

The August 2018 Trump administration rule allows short-term health insurance plans to be issued for up to 12 months and renewed for up to 36 months. This reverses a December 30, 2016 Obama administration rule that was enforced beginning in April 2017, that limited short-term plans to up to three months, and was written to force Americans into the Obamacare exchanges.

The Trump Administration rule requires that, when a consumer shops for a plan, they are notified in writing about the differences between a short-term plan and an Obamacare plan. The rule does not change any rules governing Obamacare plans, such as protections for pre-existing conditions or essential health benefit requirements.

After Senate Democrats wrote to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to raise questions about the new short-term plans rule, the insurance commissioners wrote back that these plans can be a good option for consumers, saying, “[S]hort term, limited duration insurance … meet[s] the needs of consumers for whom other types of coverage may not be appropriate, affordable, or available.”

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