Idaho, Trump officials meet on state's controversial ObamaCare plan

Idaho, Trump officials meet on state's controversial ObamaCare plan

Idaho officials met with Trump administration officials and Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischSenate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senators take bipartisan step toward blocking Trump's Saudi arms sales MORE (R-Idaho) on Wednesday to try to find a path forward on the state’s controversial plan to skirt ObamaCare rules.

Idaho insurance commissioner Dean Cameron told The Hill that he met with administration officials in Washington on Wednesday to discuss possible changes to the state’s plan.

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Last week, the Trump administration blocked the plan, saying that it appeared to violate ObamaCare, a significant move politically because it was a Republican administration blocking a Republican governor from loosening ObamaCare rules. 

Democrats had been pressuring the Trump administration to step in to enforce the health-care law.

But Idaho officials are not backing down from their plan and are now seeking to find a path forward through making adjustments to their proposal, Cameron said.

Seema Verma, the administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), who sent the letter last week blocking Idaho’s proposal, attended the meeting.

Cameron said Verma “listened” to his arguments but said he did not want to speak for her.

CMS did not respond to a request for comment about the meeting.

Cameron said he is now working on changes to his proposal that he hopes will meet the Trump administration's legal approval.

He said he plans to “see what areas we can further adjust and decide how and when to submit that to Ms. Verma.”

“Obviously nothing's resolved as of yet,” he added.

The state’s proposal was to allow cheaper health insurance plans that did not meet all of the ObamaCare rules, in an effort to entice more healthy people to sign up. For example, the proposal would have allowed people with pre-existing conditions to be charged more, something that is not allowed under ObamaCare.

Cameron said he is looking at changes in that area that would instead give a discount to healthy people.

"Senator Risch facilitated a meeting yesterday between Administration officials and the Idaho Governor’s Office," Risch's communications director, Kaylin Minton, said in a statement. "All parties involved in the meeting are working to find a solution that will give Idahoans the ability to have affordable and adequate health insurance."

Verma again suggested that the state could go a different route and promote cheaper, skimpier plans that are legal and touted by the Trump administration, known as short-term plans, according to Cameron.

But Cameron pushed back on that idea, saying the state wanted to go forward with some form of its own proposal.