Trump Administration Aims to Steer People Toward Junk Health Plans Over Obamacare

Maryland insurers say Trump Administration to cut health payments destabilizes market

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Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the funding cut is meant to change an ineffective program. All of these acts take direct aim at the heart of the Affordable Care Act and the viability of individual health insurance markets everywhere. The agency also said that the people confused by health insurance benefits can use insurance agents and brokers for help.

In justifying the cuts, CMS said the program is an "established marketplace" heading into its sixth year, so many people are more familiar with it.

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The Chinese government has also promised to pursue necessary countermeasures, but has not yet provided details. Each side is mulling tariffs on a further $16 billion in goods that would bring the totals to $50 billion.


"Applicants will also be encouraged to demonstrate how they provide information to people who may be unaware of the range of available coverage options in addition to qualified health plans (QHPs), such as association health plans, short-term, limited-duration insurance, and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs)", CMS said.

The administration said navigators were not enrolling enough people to receive higher funding amounts.

A professor who follows Obamacare said it is unclear if the payments' suspension will result in higher premiums. The nonprofit insurer sued the government in 2016 claiming the risk adjustment program unfairly penalized smaller insurers. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association says freezing the risk adjustment payments will raise premiums for millions of individuals and small business owners and might substantially shrink the number of health plan choices.

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Last month, President Trump announced the Department of Justice (DOJ) was supporting a lawsuit that challenges preexisting conditions protections under Obamacare.

Navigator groups that have helped people sign up for health insurance since Obamacare coverage began in 2014 said the funding cuts will be hard to absorb. About 20 million Americans have received health insurance coverage through the program. But the justification was flimsy - a ruling last February by a judge in New Mexico that the government's method of calculating the payments was flawed. The Maryland Insurance Administration has a hearing scheduled for July 31. The fund would be separate from the federal risk adjustment payments and could allow the insurers to reduce their requested rate increases by as much as 30 percent. The insurers have requested average rate increases for 2019 that range from 18.5 percent to 91.4 percent, depending on the type of plan. "It is important to keep in mind that the original risk adjustment payments are budget-neutral such that for some insurers to win, other insurers have to lose". Small insurers often complain about risk adjustment payments because they end up paying their larger competitors, who tend to have the sickest patients.

The most radical plan drafted by congressional Republicans last year-known as the Graham-Cassidy bill after two of its authors, Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Bill Cassidy (Louisiana)-would basically eliminate the ACA's private insurance marketplaces as well as Medicaid expansion, replacing them with lower-funded state block grants with few strings attached.

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Though Dozier dropped attempts to save his own life, he allowed federal public defenders to challenge the execution protocol. In court hearings and letters, he said there is a limit to how much artwork and exercise a person can do in prison.


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