By:  Robert King
Source: Washington Examiner

Democrats Push to End Trump's Expansion of 'Junk' Healthcare Plans

House and Senate Democrats are pushing the Trump administration to scrap a rule that expands the duration of cheap, short-term plans, and argue the rule will sabotage Obamacare.

Democratic committee leaders in the House and Senate wrote to top administration officials on Friday calling for the removal of a proposed rule that expands the duration of short-term plans from 90 days to nearly 12 months. Short-term plans skirt Obamacare’s patient protections, such as rules that prevent insurers from charging sick people more money.

Democrats complain that the rule will “encourage the sale of junk health plans that will undermine consumer protections.”

“These junk policies fail to cover needed benefits, particularly for people with pre-existing conditions,” the letter said.

Democrats charge the plans will destabilize Obamacare’s insurance exchanges. Short-term plans are likely to be cheaper than Obamacare plans because they don’t have to include protections for people with pre-existing conditions or other requirements like covering benefits such as mental health or maternity care.

[Related: Democratic leaders say Trump healthcare plans are 'junk']

But Democrats are worried that young and healthy people on the exchanges will flock to the cheaper short-term plans, leaving the exchanges with a sicker population and causing prices to skyrocket.

Trump administration officials contend that skyrocketing premiums on the exchange are the reason they are proposing the short-term plan rule. The goal is to provide consumers with a cheaper alternative to Obamacare.

The administration is also proposing regulations that expand access to association health plans, which smaller employers and individuals can band together to buy. The plans also skirt Obamacare regulations.

Democratic Reps. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, Bobby Scott of Virginia and Richard Neal of Massachusetts signed the letter from the House side. Pallone is the top ranking Democrat on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and Neal is the top Democrat on Ways & Means and Scott on the Committee on Education and Workforce.

Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Ron Wyden of Oregon also signed it. Murray is the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Wyden is top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.