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Throughout 2017 we called on the Administration to stop undermining the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and protect the care of millions of consumers in need of quality coverage. We highlighted the Administration’s actions cutting the ACA enrollment period in half; slashing funding for enrollment assistance, refusing to participate in enrollment events; shutting down www.healthcare.gov during critical times; refusing to pay cost-sharing reductions and issuing an Executive Order allowing the sale of junk insurance plans.

The New Year has just begun, but they are at it again. While the ink was drying on the tax bill that stripped the ACA’s coverage mandate, they issued a rule to allow more “association health plans” and further sabotage the ACA Marketplace. Under the rule, “association” health plans could be treated like large employer plans, which don’t have to play by the same ACA coverage rules for the individual or small group market. These so called “health plans” could weaken the ACA’s guaranteed consumer protections, raise costs and destabilize the market.

None of this comes as a surprise, especially in light of the “sabotage document” released last week by Senator Bob Casey. The document details a secret plan to undermine the ACA through executive actions no matter what happened on Capitol Hill. Senator Casey said in Politico that “The primary problem here is government officials, government agencies, were taking steps that would lead to fewer people having coverage and erecting barriers to people having coverage. In addition to that, you have kind of a closed-door, back-room slimy deal here that should trouble anyone.”        

This is further evidence of the Administration’s goal to let the ACA “fail, collapse and explode,” as the president has stated. Even though 2017 ACA enrollment beat many expectations, the actual number of uninsured people in America has grown steadily under President Trump.  Nearly 3.5 million Americans have become uninsured since the end of 2016, according to a new Gallup report, with coverage loss greatest among Latinos, African Americans and young people. This is unacceptable.   

In a bit of good news, many states stepped up to side with consumers and extended their enrollment deadlines. Consumers in the below states can still enroll.  

It is also important to note that consumers adversely affected by recent natural disasters may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period through www.healthcare.gov.

Everyone who needs coverage and still has the opportunity to enroll should get covered.

Read and submit comments to the AHP rule: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/01/05/2017-28103/definition-of-employer-under-section-35-of-erisa-association-health-plans

B. Belton, January 17, 2018

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