Senator Hernandez renews push for lawmakers to limit short-term insurance plans

The US Department of Health and Human Services announced the final rules on short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans on Wednesday August 1st. The rules significantly change the classification of “short-term” from the previous term of three months or less, to the new term of under 12 months. The regulations go even further, allowing the renewal of the plans for up to 2 times for a total of 36 months.

The promotion of the plans, which are exempt from the requirements and protections of the ACA, has been seen by some as an attempt to undercut the ACA by allowing younger, relatively healthy people to opt for cheap, scanty coverage instead of paying into the exchange, threatening its stability. The Trump Administration, however, argues that expanding the definition and length of the plans “increases choices for Americans faced with escalating premiums and dwindling options in the individual insurance market.”

The new rules finalize many of the proposals first put forth for comment in February 2018. According to a Los Angeles Times report, response to the proposals was overwhelmingly negative with more than 95% of the groups that filed comments expressing serious concern or opposition.

In response to the final rules, Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), issued a statement condemning extension of the plans and pushing the Legislature to pass SB 910, which he introduced.

“These regulations are worse than anticipated. Allowing “short-term” plans for up to three years is clearly an attempt by the Trump Administration to sabotage the ACA.  These policies are misleading and confusing to the public. These junk insurance policies barely cover any services and give people a false sense of security. They don’t end up covering necessary treatment, using pre-existing condition exclusions and health questionnaires to deny coverage. Trump’s team continues to do everything possible to destabilize our insurance market and compromise the health care of millions of Californians, but I won’t let that happen. This is why the California State Legislature must pass my measure SB 910, which would keep this junk insurance out of California. We can’t go back to the days before the ACA when you could be denied care completely or go into financial ruin because of this care.”

SB 910 would prohibit insurers in California from offering the non-compliant short-term plans in the state in an effort to protect the exchange.  In a Factsheet on the bill, Hernandez explains that the plans offer little value and are a threat to the overall health of the state.

Though the Legislature is currently in recess for the summer, the bill has passed the State Senate and is scheduled for a final vote in the Assembly upon its return on August 6th. The bill is supported by over 20 state and nation advocacy groups and medical organizations and is largely supported by legislators who passed it 12-0 out of committee and onto the final vote.