Democrats demand answers on Trump short-term insurance plans

House and Senate Democrats want answers about the Trump administration’s decision to expand the availability of short-term insurance plans that are not required to meet ObamaCare requirements.

The letter sent Tuesday is the third time Democratic health care leaders have written to the administration about the short-term plan proposal, but the first time since Democrats took control of the House.

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Lawmakers said they have yet to receive all of the information and answers they requested. Democratic Reps. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PallonePharma execs say FDA will not lower standards for coronavirus vaccine Dem chairmen urge CMS to prevent nursing homes from seizing stimulus payments Federal watchdog finds cybersecurity vulnerabilities in FCC systems MORE (N.J.), Richard NealRichard Edmund NealConservatives urge Trump to take unilateral action to suspend payroll tax collection Treasury to conduct policy review of tax-exempt status for universities after Trump tweets Stimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility MORE (Mass.) and Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottPelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive Overnight Health Care: White House blocks CDC director from testifying before House panel | Fauci urges action on masks | Administration document says counties in 'red zone' should close bars, gyms White House blocks CDC director from testifying before House panel on reopening schools MORE (Va.), as well as Democratic Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTensions flare as GOP's Biden probe ramps up  Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal On The Money: Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock | Meadows, Pelosi trade criticism on stalled stimulus talks | Coronavirus recession hits Social Security, Medicare, highway funding MORE (Ore.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayPelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive House approves two child care bills aimed at pandemic GOP, Democratic relief packages B apart on vaccine funding MORE (Wash.), signed the letter.

The Democrats said they remain concerned about the administration’s “flawed” economic analysis on the expansion of short-term plans, which they said appeared to significantly underestimate the number of individuals who would sign up for short-term plans, and the impact the proposal would have on premiums in the individual market.

“We believe allowing for renewal or extension of short-term policies for up to 36 months is contrary to law, and that the creation of an entirely unregulated parallel market competing against the market for Qualified Health Plans goes against Congressional intent in enacting the comprehensive consumer protections embodied in the Affordable Care Act,” they wrote.

The Trump administration in August finalized rules expanding non-ObamaCare health insurance plans in an effort to provide cheaper health insurance options.

Short-term health insurance plans can now last up to a year, lifting a limit of three months imposed under former President Obama. Insurers can renew the plans for up to three years. 

The administration touts these plans because they offer lower premiums for healthy people, but the plans do not need to follow ObamaCare rules, meaning they can charge people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums and leave out coverage of certain health services.

Democrats have labeled the plans as “junk” insurance and claim the move is part of the administration’s efforts to “sabotage” ObamaCare.

Insurers have also warned that the move will raise premiums for people remaining in ObamaCare plans, since some healthy people will be siphoned off into the new short-term plans.