113 groups plead for Congress to block Trump administration's expansion of short-term health plans

Washington, D.C. National Capitol Building
Backlash against the White House's proposal to expand short-term health plans continues with a letter to congressional leaders from 113 medical groups. (Getty/tupungato)

Over 100 medical groups are looking to Congress as their saving grace from the Trump administration's plan to expand short-term health plans, citing higher premiums as the main concern. 

"While short-term plans can offer less expensive coverage, they are not required to adhere to important standards, including the ten essential health benefit categories, guaranteed issue, out-of-pocket maximums, age-rating protections, and many other critical consumer protections," the groups, including the American Heart Association, Susan G. Komen, and Justice in Aging, said in an April 17 letter (PDF) to congressional leaders. 

The pushback is in response to a proposed rule, released by the Trump administration in February, to expand the coverage period for short-term insurance plans, viewed by critics as an attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Under the 2010 law, short-term plans are only available under specific circumstances, such as when people are briefly unemployed. The plans are exempt from most of the law's patient protection provisions and coverage was limited to a maximum of three months. 

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The groups say that if the policies are finalized, it will limit access to quality and affordable health insurance and disproportionately harm disabled people and those with pre-existing conditions. 

RELATED: AARP warns Trump's short-term insurance plans will hit older Americans hardest

The proposal has received fierce backlash from the industry and groups, including AARP, that individually came out against the plans. 

The Department of Health and Human Services has said that expanding the short-term plans would be a boon for middle-class families who are priced out of ACA plans, as well as younger, healthier people who typically don't have high medical costs. During the proposal's announcement, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma cited agency estimates that the policy would pull just 100,000 to 200,000 people off the individual marketplace.

However, the Urban Institute estimated the expansion, along with recent regulatory changes including the repeal of minimum essential health insurance coverage, will increase premiums by about 16.6% in 2019 alone. 

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