WASHINGTON, February 16 — Sen. Christopher MurphyD-Connecticutissued the following press release:
we Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Member of US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) led Monday 37 of his Senate colleagues, including we Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in a letter to Department of Health and Social Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra urging the Biden administration to limit the sale and availability of short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI) plans, also known as “junk plans” due to their failure to provide comprehensive and adequate health insurance coverage .
In 2018, in an effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Trump administration made junk plans more widely available to consumers. Since then, schemes have proliferated, but they are not held to important standards, including prohibiting discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, coverage of the 10 benefit categories health (EHB) and annual expenditure. pocket maximums.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable and comprehensive health care coverage. To reinforce this commitment, HHS must act quickly to limit the proliferation and promotion of STLDI plans, and undue sabotage caused by the previous administration,” the senators said.
The letter to HHS led by Baldwin, Murphy and Shaheen was also signed by we Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Michael Benet (D-Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (Dill.), Maggie Hassan (DN.H.), Bob Mendez (DN.J.), Alex Padille (D-California), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cory Booker (DN.J.), Angus King (I-Maine), Ben Ray Lujan (DN.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Diane Feinstein (D-California), Jack Reed (DR.I.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Carper (D-Delete), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Sheldon White House (DR.I.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (Dill.), Jeff Merkel (Golden.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Chris Coon (D-Delete), Charles Schumer (DN.Y.), John Hickenlooper (D-Col.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
In July 2021, Murphy and Baldwin wrote an op-ed in Health Affairs (https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/forefront.20210707.277695/full/) calling President Biden to end the previous administration’s sabotage of health care and ensure that more Americans enroll in affordable, high-quality health insurance. Last year, Murphy joined Shaheen in introducing a bill (https://www.murphy.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/murphy-shaheen-senators-reintroduce-legislation-to-limit-2021-out-of-pocket-health-care-costs) to limit healthcare spending in 2021 by reversing a damaging rule change made by the Trump administration that raised costs and made fewer Americans eligible for ACA’a premium tax credits, while requiring those who are eligible to receive less in support of the tax credit. In the previous administration, Murphy and Baldwin sent letters to HHS and the Medicare and Medicaid Service Centers (https://www.murphy.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/murphy-baldwin-senate-dems-to-hhs-reopen-the-aca-marketplace-allow-more-americans-to-get-health- insurance-during-the-covid-19-pandemic) to limit the use of junk plans and also to Congressional Budget Office (OBC) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (https://www.murphy.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/murphy-baldwin-call-on-congressional-budget-office-to-reexamine-junk-plans-offered-by-private-insurers) to reassess the basic assumptions and projections it has published regarding the use and purchase of junk plans.
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Dear Secretary Becerra:
This year, 14.5 million Americans purchased comprehensive health insurance coverage during Open Enrollment, a new record. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, four out of five consumers who have health insurance in the market find quality coverage for less than $10 per month, and the majority of these enrollees also receive subsidies to reduce their copayments, deductibles and other personal expenses. We write to congratulate you and your entire department on this significant achievement and encourage you to take additional steps to ensure that even more Americans are protected from substandard plans that do not cover pre-existing conditions. Now is the time to issue new regulations limiting the sale and availability of Short Term Limited Duration Insurance (STLDI) plans, also known as “junk plans” due to their inability to provide adequate coverage.
Despite the significant gains we’ve made in bringing comprehensive and affordable coverage to more Americans, STLDI plans continue to confuse and harm patients. These plans, which are not required to meet important standards, including the prohibition of discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, coverage of the 10 categories of essential health benefits (EHB) and annual out-of-pocket caps , continued to proliferate . In 2018, the Trump administration issued a rule to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by promoting STLDI plans and that same year all Senate Democrats and a Republican senator voted to block the rule. Unfortunately, this effort to undermine essential patient and consumer protection has not yet been undone.
We were thrilled to see the Biden administration include changing regulations for STLDI plans in the Fall 2021 Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan, and we’re proud of the historic coverage gains we’ve seen through of President Biden and your leadership. However, it is high time for us to act. STLDI plans compromise the integrity of the ACA and endanger people with pre-existing conditions. The Ministry of Health and Social Services (HHS) should immediately reinstate the three-month term limit for plans, limit plan renewal, and reduce the ability to purchase consecutive STLDI plans. We also urge you to consider additional efforts to protect patients and consumers, such as prohibiting sales during open market listing, limiting internet and telephone sales, prohibiting retroactive coverage terminations and requiring additional disclosures to consumers about plan coverage.
It is our responsibility to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable and comprehensive health care coverage. To reinforce this commitment, HHS must act quickly to limit the proliferation and promotion of STLDI plans, and undue sabotage caused by the previous administration.