Trump officials move to expand non-ObamaCare health plans

Trump officials move to expand non-ObamaCare health plans

The Trump administration on Tuesday announced an expansion of health insurance plans that do not meet all ObamaCare requirements, in an effort to allow customers access to cheaper insurance options.

The plans, called association health plans, allow small businesses and other groups to band together to buy health insurance.

The move is part of a broader Trump administration effort to open up skimpier, cheaper plans as an alternative to ObamaCare plans.

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Democrats strongly oppose the move as allowing for “junk” insurance that will not meet people’s needs and that will cause premiums to rise for those remaining in ObamaCare plans, once some healthier people are siphoned off into the new plans.

Secretary of Labor Alex AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaFederal litigator files complaint alleging Labor secretary abused his authority Appeals court to review legality of Epstein plea deal Appeals court finds prosecutors' secret plea agreement with Epstein didn't break law MORE on Tuesday said the new plans “will offer more health care coverage options at a better price.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE has praised the idea of the plans, often noting the move while he laments in speeches that ObamaCare repeal failed to pass last year when Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCrenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat Analysis: Biden victory, Democratic sweep would bring biggest boost to economy The Memo: Trump's strengths complicate election picture MORE (R-Ariz.) voted no.

“Do you remember that?  No, nobody remembers. Thumbs down,” Trump said in April, referencing McCain’s vote. “But it’s all right, because Alex Acosta has come up and — you know, this is a plan that a lot of people have wanted for a long time, associations. And we’re going to have tremendous sign-ups.”

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 4 million people will join the new association health plans, based on the proposed regulation offered in January.

The CBO also noted that plans would be cheaper in part because they do not have to comply with standards on which health-care services a plan must cover, but plans could exclude coverage of services like prescription drugs or mental health.

As a result of these new plans, and a separate Trump administration proposal to open up other options known as short-term plans, premiums for people remaining in the ObamaCare market will rise 2 to 3 percent, the CBO estimated.