October 10, 2018

Whitehouse Bashes Republican Defense of ‘Junk’ Health Insurance Plans

‘Republicans’ junk plans are a rip-off, plain and simple’

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) called out President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans for defending the sale of “junk” health insurance plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and don’t cover essential health services, like emergency room visits and maternity care.  Senate Republicans voted down a resolution today that would have overturned the Trump rule permitting the sale of junk plans.  Yesterday, the White House threatened to veto the resolution, doubling down on the president’s support for junk plans.

When Rhode Islanders buy health insurance, they expect it to cover the basics, like trips to the emergency room and maternity care.  I was proud to vote those basic protections into law as part of the Affordable Care Act, and I’ve been standing shoulder-to-shoulder with my Democratic colleagues to defend them ever since,” said Whitehouse. 

Now, President Trump is allowing insurers to peddle junk,” Whitehouse continued.  “These plans let insurers side-step protections for those with pre-existing conditions and stick unsuspecting consumers with bills for prescription drugs, mental health care, and other things that ought to be covered.  And in the process, they drive up the cost for everyone else by siphoning people out of individual insurance marketplaces.  Republicans’ junk plans are a rip-off, plain and simple.”

According to nonpartisan experts, short-term “junk” plans drive up health care costs for consumers and weaken vital protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.  According to an LA Times analysis, “more than 98% — or 335 of 340 — of the health care groups that commented [to the Trump administration] on the proposal to loosen restrictions on short-term health plans criticized it, in many cases warning that the rule could gravely hurt sick patients.” 

Influential health care groups, from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to the AARP, have spoken out strongly in opposition to junk plans.  The American Medical Association said of the junk plan rule, “We believe the proposed rule . . . would culminate in plans being offered that fall far short of maintaining crucial state and federal patient protections, disrupt and destabilize the individual health insurance markets, and result in substandard, inadequate health insurance coverage.”


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