Health groups sue to block Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans

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A patient is shown signing up for ObamaCare insurance in this Nov. 22, 2017, file photo.

Seven health-care groups on Friday sued to block the Trump administration’s expansion of non-ObamaCare health insurance plans.

The groups argued the move harms people with pre-existing conditions.

The lawsuit in federal district court in Washington seeks to stop the Trump administration’s rules issued last month expanding short-term health insurance plans, so that they can last up to one year instead of just three months.

{mosads}The Trump administration argues these plans provide a cheaper alternative to costly ObamaCare plans, but opponents call them “junk” plans because they are not required to cover people with pre-existing conditions and can exclude coverage of certain health services.

The expansion of short-term plans that do not comply with ObamaCare has been one of President Trump’s most significant moves to get around the health-care law in the absence of repealing it, which the new lawsuit now seeks to stop.

The groups suing include the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Psychiatric Association and the Little Lobbyists, which represents children with complex medical needs.

The groups argue the expansion of short-term plans violates the text of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and that plans that last up to one year do not meet any reasonable definition of “short term.”

“Like any law, the ACA can be repealed by act of Congress,” the lawsuit states. “But Congress has repeatedly rejected attempts to repeal the ACA. Now, with the issuance of the [short-term plans] Rule, the Departments seek to do by executive fiat what could not be accomplished through the required constitutional process.”

The Trump administration defended its move on Friday in response to the lawsuit. 

“Short-Term Limited Duration plans are an important option for people in certain circumstances and the Trump Administration is committed to delivering greater access to more affordable choices to the men and women left out by Obamacare,” said Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services.  

Other groups joining the lawsuit include the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, Mental Health America, AIDS United and National Partnership for Women & Families.

The lawsuit echoes an argument made by other opponents of the rule that premiums will rise for ObamaCare enrollees because healthy people will be siphoned away into the cheaper, skimpier short-term plans.

It “will be more expensive, and perhaps impossible, for some individuals with pre-existing conditions to obtain health care and health insurance coverage—undermining the purpose of, and congressional plan embodied in, the ACA,” the lawsuit states.

“If the rule is permitted to stand, it will thwart rather than further Congress’s objectives in enacting [the ACA],” they argue.

–Updated at 12:33 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Lawsuit ObamaCare short-term health plans Trump administration

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