The GOP spent weeks attempting to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, only for those efforts to fall apart. That’s frustrated many Republicans, and Trump, in particular, has been vocal on what he views as the GOP’s failure. So, he’s going to try and revise the law himself, or so Washington gossip claims.
- A New Regulation For Small Businesses: It will order the Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services to come up with revision to regulation that allows small business to form “association” health plans, essentially creating a risk pool separate from state-level services provided by the ACA, and allow “short-term” health plans to have year-long terms, instead of the current limit of three months. These associations will also be able to work across state lines, according to some versions of the draft regulation. Currently, small businesses are able to buy either private plans that meet regulations or buy from state marketplaces.
- Will This Help Or Hurt U.S. Citzens? The basic concern is that this is an attempt to undercut state marketplaces by taking people out of the individual pool, thus driving up premiums, and, in the case of short-term plans, allowing people to buy insurance that doesn’t actually help them. The fewer people in a pool, the higher the risk and thus the higher the premiums.
- A Convenient Loophole: Trump’s strategy also potentially creates a loophole for employers who don’t want to cover certain services, most notably birth control, something the Trump administration has targeted in the recent past. But all that depends on the regulation ultimately written by other departments and the decisions of employers once those rules are published.
- Will This Be An Empty Gesture In The End? Left-leaning think-tank the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, or CBPP, notes that, since small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees aren’t required to abide by certain regulations, most small business employees already get their insurance through individual plans. It’s unlikely any small-pool association plan could offer better prices and the same benefits as the individual pool.
In other words, Trump wants to be able to insist he did something, anything, on health care. We’ll see exactly what happens once the order is signed.