U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement on the proposed rule from the Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services, which would continue the Administration’s efforts to undermine health insurance markets and raise health care costs for Hoosiers, while failing to offer protections for those with pre-existing conditions.
Donnelly said, “Instead of working to improve access to quality and affordable health care, the Administration is continuing its efforts to undermine the health care system and raise health care costs by offering skimpy, off-marketplace plans that deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and in need of substance use treatment.”
The health plans, proposed on Tuesday, would allow consumers to buy so-called ‘skimpy’ plans for up to 364 days at time, reversing the current limitation that these plans can only be used for three months at a time as a bridge option for consumers. These plans, sold outside of the current health insurance exchanges including in Indiana, allow for discrimination based on pre-existing condition, allows consumers to be charged more when sick, and are not required to cover essential health care benefits including emergency services or preventative care.
Donnelly has repeatedly urged the Administration to commit to providing stability to health insurance markets and working together on bipartisan solutions to reduce health care costs, expand access to care, and strengthen the health care system.
Last fall, Donnelly participated in bipartisan negotiation and listening sessions with health care experts that led to legislation that sought to stabilize health care markets. The bill Donnelly supported that was introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) would fund cost-sharing reduction payments (CSR), which help lower consumers’ deductibles and co-pays, for two years. Donnelly’s efforts came after repeated actions by the Administration to undermine the health care system, which resulted in premiums rising by an average of 20 percent for Hoosiers on the individual health care marketplace. In particular, several insurance companies that offer coverage to Hoosiers, including two that left the market, cited uncertainty as it relates to the Administration’s refusal to commit to making CSR payments, as a key reason for increasing prices or leaving the market. CareSource, for example, told Donnelly several months ago in a letter, “If there was certainty that CSR payments would be made, we estimate that there would be a 2.2% rate increase, in aggregate, from our 2017 to 2018 rates.”