Four cities are unhappy with the president’s latest attack on Obamacare and have decided to sue the Trump administration. They claim that President Trump is violating Article II of the Constitution, which states he needs to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Trump made the announcement last month that he was going to freeze payments from the part of the Obamacare program that protects insurers with less healthy customers from financial loss. Instead, the new risk adjustment program will take money from insurers with healthier customers and redistribute it to those who have more sickly customers.
Obviously, insurance companies with healthy customers are not happy about it. However, the idea here isn’t a mass conspiracy to take from the rich and distribute to the poor. No, the goal is to curtail insurance companies that purposefully seek to pad their clientele with the healthiest customers.
The lawsuit is being filed in Maryland federal court by the cities of Baltimore, Columbus, and Cincinnati, OH, and Chicago, IL.
“There’s a clear case of premeditated destruction of the Affordable Care Act,” said Zach Klein, Columbus city attorney.
The move “will significantly increase 2019 premiums for millions of individuals and small-business owners and could result in far fewer health plan choices,” said Blue Cross Blue Shield Association president Scott Serota in a statement. “It will undermine Americans’ access to affordable coverage, particularly those who need medical care the most.”Scott Serota
However, that’s not the extent of the healthcare plan. To help with threats of rising insurance premiums, “the Department of Health and Human Services, Labor Department, and Treasury Department released the final rule that allows consumers to buy “short-term, limited duration” health insurance plans that are not subject to the Obamacare requirements.”
The new rule is basically the same as the existing rule before 2017. At that time, Americans could keep the plan for nearly a year, but that was changed by then-president Barack Obama in an executive action a mere three weeks before he left office. Obama reduced the short-term limited duration coverage to less than three months to encourage more people to join the exchanges.
The new plan will again cover an initial period of one year, but it will come with a renewable maximum period of no longer than three years. The Department of Health and Human Services has said that the average monthly premium for somebody with a short-term health plan in the fourth quarter of 2016 was $124, whereas an unsubsidized plan in the Obamacare exchange was $393.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, only subsidized consumers show continued stable enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges, while unsubsidized consumer enrollment has declined by 20%. Premiums have increased by 21%.
A written statement by CMS Administrator Seema Verma states that:
“We continue to see a crisis of affordability in the individual insurance market, especially for those who don’t qualify for large subsidies. This final rule opens the door to new, more affordable coverage options for millions of middle-class Americans who have been priced out of ACA plans.”
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said the new plan “can be as much as 50-80 percent lower cost than the Affordable Care Act exchange plans.”
This may be good news for contract and part-time employees, students, and anyone who doesn’t qualify for subsidies. Currently, the Obamacare exchange has subsides for 87% of its consumers.