White House Blocks Idaho's Attempt to Skirt ACA

Cheryl Sanders
March 10, 2018

In a letter to the state's governor, Seema Verma, administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, rejected Idaho's proposal to sell state-based plans that lack ACA provisions, writing "we have a duty to enforce and uphold the law".

Verma ended her letter by encouraging Idaho to consult with the agency so its "state-based plans" could be allowed under the short-term plans proposed rule.

The Trump administration on Thursday blocked efforts by Idaho lawmakers to circumvent certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), The New York Times reported.

The move from Verma on Thursday was notable because it was a Republican administration stepping in to enforce ObamaCare and prevent a plan to get around its rules by a Republican governor. That could include fining insurance companies $100 a day for every person they insure on a non-ACA compliant plan.

It is a victory for the rule of law, given how openly Idaho was defying the ACA.

Idaho unveiled its plans in late January, and did not seek approval from the federal government before announcing it would allow insurers in the state to allow plans that don't comply with coverage requirements in the ACA.

In other words: The White House has proposed allowing insurers to sell low-priced plans that flout Obamacare's regulatory protections - and thus, to create a bifurcated insurance market that jacks up premiums for people who require comprehensive coverage - so long as insurers call their junky (year-long, infinitely renewable) plans "short-term".

"We want an Idaho solution for health insurance and we are going to do everything we can to achieve it.

This is unacceptable. We are grateful that the Trump Administration is working with states to roll back Obamacare's regulations and we look forward to an ongoing discussion that will result in implementing our state-centered solutions for healthcare".

As highlighted by federal health regulators, Idahoans have seen over a 90-percent increase in their insurance premiums, forcing almost 100,000 Idahoans to go without health insurance. This means that plans can discriminate against people with preexisting medical conditions, by charging them higher premiums, and impose caps on the benefits their customers receive.

Then last week, Blue Cross of Idaho submitted five "Freedom Blue" plans it wants to sell in the state starting in April that would not comply with the ACA's regulations. And at least one state-based plan would be required to provide maternity coverage.

But Health and Human Services stepped in.

In the interim, Blue Cross of Idaho announced that it would gladly sell awful insurance plans to the good people of the Gem State - and other conservative states began seeing the virtues of simply pretending that Obamacare no longer existed.

Other reports by iNewsToday