On a quest to continue the dismantling of Obamacare, President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday which will allow more consumers to obtain health insurance through association health plans by opening markets across state lines and modifying current restrictions. For Republicans, this is another box to check in the long list of promises made during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Never Trumpers” were quick to point out that this proposal is detrimental, will not work, and will leave many people without adequate insurance. The most prevalent arguments are the inability to regulate products offered by insurance companies and the variation of cost to provide care from state to state which prevents same premiums across borders.
The major concern of giving the states too much flexibility without appropriate regulation is it potentially leaves the elderly and those who have health concerns unable to obtain affordable coverage. However, we do have a huge Department of Commerce who could easily assert jurisdiction. This belies the fact that monies given to the states will be monitored to ensure it is used for healthcare.
Small Business Gets a Break
The proposed rule allows employers to pool their resources to form Small Business Health Plans (SBHP) based on industry or geographical location and use that purchasing power to buy group plans for their employees. Sole proprietors can also join these SBHPs making it possible for millions of American who are business owners and members of their families to have affordable access to healthcare insurance.
What President Trump is trying to allow is the free insurance markets to operate and compete as they did for decades before the Affordable Care Act. Under Obamacare, the insurance markets and their inherent competitiveness evaporated and resulted in little to no choice of plan availability.
Other perks of the order would be to allow employers to cover more out-of-pocket expenses which currently fall outside of Obamacare plans; it also requests lengthening the term of short-term limited duration insurance, or STLDIs, for up to one year. Currently, insurance companies can only offer these replacement plans for three months at a time. The expansion is a huge help to people who find themselves between jobs.
Removing the state boundaries from those offering insurance products may be a very slippery slope and perhaps should be done in a “proceed with caution” manner. Let’s wait and see if the entrepreneurial spirit of the insurance companies, working with SBHPs can ameliorate this concern over affordability and access.
It is possible that consumers could once again end up on the short end of the stick when it comes to affordable healthcare, but if in fact, you have recently been a patient, you probably realize there is nowhere else to go but up.
None of the changes proposed in the order would take effect immediately, as new regulations will be required from the Departments of Labor, Health, and Treasury.
Healthcare reform promises to rear its head in many forms during 2018, and this is just the beginning. Nothing about obtaining affordable healthcare will be simple. The complexity of the issues combined with the fraud, waste, and abuse of the system has mired us so far into the swamp that many worry it cannot be fixed.
The Right Mentality
Yet there is hope. President Trump and his administration will continue to not settle for that “defeatist mentality.” Making America Great Again is about movement, not paralysis. Democrats might as well prepare themselves for the fact that it will not be an all or nothing debate. There will be those who benefit and those who do not.
The road to recovery will require some concession if we have any hope at all to fix this healthcare debacle. We need a map, and we need leadership. But most of all we need compassionate reform that looks beyond social media virtue signaling and partisan posturing. Healthcare that works for America and Americans is possible…Are both sides willing to pay the political cost?
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