Trump officials approve Georgia plan to remove healthcare.gov as enrollment option
The Trump administration on Sunday evening approved Georgia’s proposal to eliminate the federal healthcare.gov website as a path to enroll in health insurance, instead directing people to private brokers and insurers.
The Trump administration and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) argue the move will increase innovation from the private sector, but Democrats denounced the move as creating confusion for consumers that will result in some people losing coverage.
The move would make Georgia the first state to have no government-run website to enroll in ObamaCare coverage.
The shot at the ObamaCare website was announced on Sunday, just two days before Election Day, and concerns a key battleground state.
Under the waiver Kemp requested and the Trump administration approved, consumers in Georgia will no longer be able to enroll in health care coverage through the healthcare.gov website starting in 2023.
There are currently 36 states using the federal healthcare.gov site, while the other 14 run their own websites.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said in a statement Sunday that this approach will “drive improvements in the consumer shopping and enrollment experience as the market innovates to meet consumer preferences.”
However, enrolling through insurers and brokers is already an option, so Democrats said the move would simply take away the option of healthcare.gov for Georgians looking to enroll in ObamaCare coverage, without adding anything new.
The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote in September that the proposal could result in “tens of thousands” of people losing health coverage due to the confusion of switching systems.
The group also warned that private brokers and insurers would be more likely to steer people into “substandard plans” that do not meet ObamaCare requirements.
“Today the Trump administration approved a Georgia waiver to eliminate the exchange,” tweeted Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “This doesn’t give people more options. It just makes getting insurance harder.”
The Georgia proposal also includes a program called “reinsurance,” which has been used in other states as a way to lower premiums with bipartisan support. The program reimburses insurers for some of their high-cost claims, helping bring down premiums by an estimated average of 10 percent.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the move is part of the Trump administration’s effort to give states room to maneuver.
“President Trump continues to demonstrate the power of a policy approach that prioritizes state flexibility and competition over rigid micromanagement and Washington mandates,” she said in a statement.
Democrats have made defending ObamaCare from GOP attacks a key part of the campaign. Three House Democratic chairmen, Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Richard Neal (Mass.) and Bobby Scott (Va.), denounced the move. They also said it is illegal given that ObamaCare requires that state waivers do not result in people losing coverage.
“The Trump Administration is once again defying the law in its ideological pursuit to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) anywhere it can,” they said.
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