Tag Archives: Trump

Will Congress vote away pre-existing exclusions?

From AP 6/14/18, click here for full story

The media  has grasped onto recent Trump administration statements as being aimed at pre-existing conditions.  At issue is Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent decision that the Justice Department will no longer defend key parts of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act in court. That includes the law’s unpopular requirement to carry health insurance, but also widely supported provisions that protect people with pre-existing medical conditions and limit what insurers can charge older, sicker customers.”

The truth here is that it is unlikely that anyone would want to go back to being stuck in a job because of medical coverage.  The truth here is that the law has many interlocking parts, so allowing one piece to be abolished may have other consequences (Kind of lick all decisions we make as humans!).

It appears that the administration is refusing to defend parts of the law related to mandated employer coverages.  While large employers would have no problem, it could affect employers with less than 50 employees IF such a change was ever made.  IF such a change was made – the courts threw out a section that affected it, it would be a simple thing for Congress to fix it.  Based on track record on other simple issues, however, this writer IMHO doubts they could get over their partisan paralysis and get much of anything done.

 

Lower-cost, lower coverage plans coming?

In an article on Fox News (click here for the full article), the Trump administration proposed allowing insurers to sell 12-month long “short term medical plans.”  These used to be available, at a much lower pricing point, but the Obama Administration eliminated them for the most past.

Considering the increasing numbers of clients I speak to who are dropping coverage, or going without, because of the high premiums, this may be a very popular option.

“We need to be opening up more affordable alternatives,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters. “It’s one step in the direction of providing Americans with alternatives that are both more affordable and more suited to individual and family circumstances.”

 

So what, exactly, did Trump eliminate on the Subsidies?

The President, in signing an executive order this past week, stopped all payments for Cost-sharing Subsidies.  Now, in a language most of you can understand:

  1.  This does not eliminate subsidies.  The Government is continuing to pay these and apparently will continue
  2. “Cost-sharing Subsidies” are only received by those on Silver plans below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level
  3. The plans are already filed and pre-approved.  Enrollees will continue to receive the same benefits as the contracts are not being changed.
  4. The Insurance company is not being paid their portion of the cost-sharing subsidies.

So in the end this affects the Insurance Carriers but not the enrolled person.  Many Insurance Carriers have already increased their premiums for 2018, based on warnings by the States that this would happen.  So in the end it may not mean much, except we all know the premiums are going up for 2018.

 

MEANWHILE – back in court, Attorney GEnerals in more than a dozen states, led by NY and CA, filed suit to get an injunction and prevent this from happening.  Given the recent rulings by these courts it is likely that they will win, at least temporarily.  It also seems to have stimulated Congress to discuss this, and perhaps even try and fix it.  At the center of the move is the argument that this is an expense that Congress never authorized.

Changes to ObamaCare made by President

In the last 24 hours, President Trump has signed executive orders changing a number of things about “ObamaCare” – some which will popular, and others which won’t… depending on who you are.  This is not a political conversation, at least not on my blog.

The first change is to allow Associations and business organizations to offer insurance through their organizations again.  When I first started in this industry this was common, but that turned with NY’s change to “Community Rated Plans” in 1993 under Governor Cuomo.  This will most likely be coupled with “the ability to sell across state lines.”  It is an intriguing idea fraught with many technical issues.

In theory it would allow plans that don’t meet the “minimum essential benefit” rules – which if you are a 25 year old male not needing maternity coverage is a good thing for your rates.  Of course if you need a benefit down the line that you did not buy you would have to change plans.

 

It also allows Short Term Medical Plans to expand – the Federal Government under President Obama eliminated these plans for any time frame more than 90 days.

NOTHING in the executive orders has any affect on pre-existing conditions, although there has been much speculation in social media about that.

More troubling is the removal of subsidies for “low-income people.”  It is unclear based on what I have been able to read this morning exactly what that means, typical for politics.  Does this mean the Medicaid expansion is unfunded?  It appears to target only the “cost-sharing payments” that lower deductibles and costs for those under 250% of the Federal Poverty level, but does it also affect all subsidies?  Not clear.

SUMMARY-  Executive orders have no force of law.  The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is the law of the land.  The association, and across state lines pieces, will probably take a year or more to have any affect.  It is likely that there will be a series of court appearances designed to stop the Trump administration from eliminating subsidies.  The problem is – Open Enrollment begins in 18 days!  How will people be able to make intelligent decisions about health care choices during this years open enrollment period is a huge concern for our office.

As always, we will be here to help you through this mess.  We expect a number of twists and turns.

 

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Reeve Conover is a Registered Representative. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/dealer member FINRA/SPIC. Cambridge and Conover Consulting are not affiliated. Licensed in SC, NC, NY, CT, NJ, and CA.
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