Yesterday, top Trump health officials Secretary Alex Azar and Administrator Seema Verma directly contradicted their own short-term plan regulation as they desperately tried to spin away the damage their plan would inflict on Americans’ ability to access quality, affordable health care.
In their own words, here’s a roundup of Azar’s and Verma’s inconsistencies about the real impact of their “short-term” plan proposal:
Spiking individual market premiums
HHS REG: “It would result in an increase in premiums for the individuals remaining in those risk pools. An increase in premiums for individual market single risk pool coverage would result in an increase in Federal outlays for APTC.”
VERMA: “This shift will have will have virtually no impact on the individual market premiums.”
HHS REG: “Consumers who purchase short-term, limited-duration insurance policies and then develop chronic conditions could face financial hardship as a result, until they are able to enroll in PPACA-compliant plans that would provide for such conditions.”
VERMA: “While in the past these plans have been a bridge, now they can be a lifeline.”
Fewer real insurance options
HHS REG: “Individual market issuers could experience higher than expected costs of care and suffer financial losses, which might prompt them to leave the individual market.”
AZAR: “This is a group of people, they live in areas of the country where there’s one plan they might have access to, so they’re looking for other options.”
“Short term” or not?
HHS REG: “Short-term, limited-duration insurance is a type of health insurance coverage that was designed to fill temporary gaps in coverage that may occur when an individual is transitioning from one plan or coverage to another.”
AZAR: “We are proposing that these plans would be available up to 12 months for people … We are asking for comment on whether we have the legal authority to let people renew their plans.”
Bonus: A Pre-existing Predicament
Even Azar and Verma can’t find a way to sugarcoat the harm their proposal would inflict on the one in four Americans with a pre-existing condition. The Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions are among the law’s most popular provisions.
HHS REG: “Short-term, limited-duration insurance policies would be unlikely to include all the elements of PPACA-compliant plans, such as the preexisting condition exclusion prohibition.”
AZAR: “These plans may have fewer benefits than we’re used to, they may have more restrictions, and also they may be able to limit who they insure for. That’s part of this.”