WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., joined with the Senate to reject legislation that would have blocked an important Trump administration rule giving consumers better options and more protection when they purchase short-term limited-duration healthcare plans, a lower-cost alternative to the Obamacare marketplace.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration issued a rule to expand consumers’ access to short-term limited-duration healthcare plans and permit these plans to be renewed for people with pre-existing conditions, providing Georgians with increased options beyond the very limited choice of marketplace plans available under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Today’s measure voted on in the Senate, S.Res.63, would have halted the rule and prohibited any “substantially similar” rules from being introduced in the future. The measure failed by a vote of 50-50.
“Americans want and need more options for health care coverage – not fewer. This rule is an important step forward to get more affordable health care for some who don’t currently have access, and it’s critical that we keep it in place,” Isakson said. “This commonsense opportunity allows consumers more options that fit their needs, often at a lower cost. And one need not look far for proof that they are needed, because thousands of consumers purchased these plans before they were restricted by the Obama administration. If adopted, today’s resolution would have taken away health coverage from Americans enrolled in short-term plans, eliminated consumer protections, and forced people into one-size-fits-all Obamacare plans that too often don’t cover the doctors or hospitals they need.”
In June 2017, Isakson sent a letter with 13 other senators urging the Trump administration to reverse an Obama-era regulation that limited the purchase of these short-term limited-duration healthcare plans in the marketplace. Following this letter, President Trump announced a new executive order in Oct. 2017, called the “Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States,” which sought to increase options for quality, affordable health insurance.
As part of the administration’s efforts to comply with this order, on Aug. 3, 2018, the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services submitted a rule to allow the expansion of these short-term limited-duration healthcare plans, and the rule took effect on Oct. 2. The short-term plan rule does not affect the availability, coverage requirements, or subsidies for individual health insurance plans offered under the Obamacare marketplaces.
Short-term limited-duration healthcare plans remained a viable health coverage option for consumers until a Health and Human Service regulation went into effect on April 1, 2017, that greatly restricted the use of these policies. The regulation decreased the maximum policy length of short-term limited-duration plans from 364 days to 90 days. According to estimates, prior to April 1, 2017, at any given point, the market for short-term plans likely consisted of 650,000 to 850,000 enrollees with the average coverage duration lasting five to six months.