The Trump administration is looking to the past to help people get health insurance today.
Proposed regulations out on Tuesday from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allow insurers to sell short-term policies lasting up to 12 months. The plans do not have to meet all of the Affordable Care Act's requirements. That means people may not get all the "benefits" the ACA provides, but consumers – in theory – would pay lower premiums. Premiums have been a sore subject for millions of people who do not qualify for taxpayer subsidies in the Affordable Care Act designed to help offset the cost of health insurance.
"The administration's proposed rule provides much needed relief for consumers who can't afford ObamaCare health insurance plans," says Doug Badger of The Heritage Foundation. "Short-term limited duration health plans have been around for years, and President Obama tried to put the kibosh on them, saying you're not allowed to buy a policy that lasts more than 90 days."
The Associated Press says critics believe short-term policies will draw healthy people away from the health law's insurance markets, potentially making them less stable and raising subsidy costs for taxpayers.
"From 2014 through 2016, these plans could last one year and were renewable," Badger counters. "They did not materially affect premiums. A forthcoming paper from The Heritage Foundation will show that ObamaCare regulations and the merger of high-risk pools into the individual markets account for virtually all of the ObamaCare premium increases over that period of time."
Regardless, some states are not waiting for the federal government. Idaho, for example, is allowing insurers to sell non-ACA compliant plans.
"There are other states that may not allow these sorts of things," Badger adds. "The point is the federal government is not going to come down and say that they can't last more than 90 days no matter what a state wants to do."
Meanwhile, The Heritage Foundation continues to support repealing and replacing ObamaCare and is continuing to work to do that.
"Right now, Congress has called it quits on that and [lawmakers] really don't want to pursue that any longer," Badger continues. "So we're caught in this circumstance where we're going to continue to fight for repeal; but in the meantime, there are millions of people, families all across the country, who are still getting crushed by ObamaCare – and if the Trump administration wants to throw them a lifeline, we're going to support that as well."