Mixed reviews for Trump administration's proposed ACA marketplace changes

Document titled "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act"
Some say a newly proposed rule from the Trump administration is a positive step toward stabilizing the exchanges, while others think it will benefit health insurers at the expense of consumers. (Getty/designer491)

A newly proposed federal rule seeking to patch up the Affordable Care Act exchanges has received mixed reviews from healthcare industry groups and other experts.

The rule, the first to be issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under the Trump administration, would shorten the annual open enrollment period, tighten special enrollment period rules, allow insurers to collect prior unpaid premiums before enrolling a patient in a plan for the next year and alter minimum coverage requirements, among other changes.

Here’s a rundown of the reactions the proposed rule has received so far:

Positive

  • America’s Health Insurance Plans spokeswoman Kristine Grow said in a statement that while the group is still reviewing the details, it is encouraged by the proposed rule. “We commend the administration for proposing these regulatory actions as Congress considers other critical actions necessary to help stabilize and improve the individual market for 2018,” she said.
  • Mary R. Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, was most pleased with the provision aimed at curbing special enrollment period “abuses” and the one that allows insurers to offer a greater range of coverage options. “For insurers to participate in the market and offer affordable health coverage, they require stability and predictability,” she said in an emailed statement. “This rule is a very positive step in the right direction.”
  • Newly minted Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price tweeted out a statement in support of the rule, saying it represents “initial steps in advance of a broader effort to reduce the harmful effects of Obamacare.”
  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., also praised the rule as a vital ACA rescue effort, saying “without this course of action, many of the 18 million Americans in the individual insurance market may have zero choices for insurance next year.”

Negative

  • Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, slammed the proposed rule, saying it will “shift more of the cost burden to consumers, make it more difficult for people to enroll in health coverage and put at risk people’s ability to access providers of their choice.”
  • Enroll America also had concerns about changing the special enrollment period rules. "While we would strongly welcome action to strengthen the marketplace and protect coverage for the millions who rely on it, we are very concerned that today's proposed regulation would make it more difficult for eligible consumers to enroll in and maintain marketplace coverage,” Jennifer Sullivan, the group’s vice president of programs, said in an emailed statement.
  • The Democratic National Committee was also not impressed, with National Press Secretary Adrienne Watson saying in an emailed statement that “President Trump’s effort to begin dismantling the ACA will make healthcare worse, more expensive and harder to get for Americans everywhere.”
  • The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt questioned the Trump administration’s assertion that the rule is designed to protect consumers.