Trump admin urges states to cooperate on expansion of non-ObamaCare plans

Trump admin urges states to cooperate on expansion of non-ObamaCare plans

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday urged states to cooperate with the Trump administration's expansion of "short-term" health plans outside of ObamaCare.

Several state regulators have moved to restrict the sales of these plans in their states, arguing that, despite being less expensive than ObamaCare plans, they're bad for consumers and aren't an adequate substitute for comprehensive insurance.

Unlike plans sold under ObamaCare, the administration's short-term health plans do not have to cover services like maternity care or prescription services, and they can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

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Speaking at the American Legislative Exchange Council in Louisiana, Azar said the short-term plans are a viable option for people who can't afford ObamaCare, arguing that states should not restrict access to them. 

"This affordable option will only be as available as state legislators and insurance commissioners allow it to be," Azar said. 

The administration issued a rule last week extending the maximum duration of short-term plans from three months to up to three years

But governors in some states, including Maryland and Vermont, have already signed laws limiting the duration of these plans to three months, with no opportunities for extensions or renewals.

Such restrictions limit the usefulness of these plans, Azar said. 

"We believe sensible state regulation of these plans is important. But millions of Americans are in need of affordable insurance options, and states can help build this market outside of Obamacare’s broken regulations," he said. 

On Twitter, Azar took a stronger stance, writing that states should allow these plans to "flourish," and not over-regulate them.