Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement about the Administration’s ongoing efforts to undermine our nation’s health care system. The latest action came yesterday when the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is cutting funding from $36.8 million to $10 million for a program that helps Americans sign up for health insurance. This program was already slashed significantly last year when Indiana saw an 82 percent cut—the steepest in the country. Additionally, for the 2019 enrollment period, the Administration will encourage organizations that do receive enrollment funding to promote off-market “junk” insurance plans that do not cover pre-existing conditions and other basic benefits and protections.
Donnelly said, “The Administration’s strategy is clear: continue to sabotage our health care system. These sustained and deliberate efforts are expected to make quality insurance harder to access and cover fewer essential benefits, raises costs for families, and harm folks who have pre-existing conditions. This is the wrong approach, and we should be working together to make quality health care more affordable and accessible.”
Some Hoosiers could see higher premiums in the coming year. Last month, Centene and CareSource filed their 2019 plans for Indiana’s health insurance marketplace, with a proposed average premium increase of 5.1%. Both Centene and CareSource suggested that premiums would have been lower if not for actions by the Administration and some in Congress.
Among actions taken by the Administration to undermine the health care law:
- EFFORT TO END PROTECTIONS FOR THOSE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS: The Administration argued in a federal court brief in June that pre-existing conditions coverage should be ruled unconstitutional, adding more uncertainty into the insurance marketplaces. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 30 percent of Hoosiers under the age of 65 (more than 1.1 million people) have pre-existing conditions that could have left them with no coverage or facing higher rates, under rules prior to the health care law. In addition, the Administration’s brief supports eliminating limits on how much insurance companies can charge people based on gender, age, and health status. Indiana is among the 20 states that filed a lawsuit in February charging that the entire health care law should be ruled unconstitutional due to changes made to it through the tax law enacted late last year.
- PROPOSED SHORT-TERM “JUNK” PLANS: On February 20, 2018, the Trump Administration proposed a rule that would allow short-term, limited-duration insurance plans to be sold for up to 12 months. Currently, these off-market “junk” plans can only be sold for up to 3 months. These plans do not have to cover essential health benefits, like mental health and prescription drugs. Coverage can also be denied based on pre-existing conditions or limited by the imposition of annual or lifetime caps.