The Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) said Friday it would appeal a U.S. District Court’s ruling that the Trump administration can expand the sale and renewal of short-term limited-duration insurance (STLDI) as a substitute for comprehensive health insurance.
The plans, commonly known as “skinny plans,” are often less expensive than plans in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, but also don’t cover as many medical services and can deny coverage to consumers with pre-existing conditions.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in the District of Columbia on Friday upheld a final rule that expands the sale of these short-term plans and extends access to them from three months to 12 months with renewals allowed up to three years.
Leon said in his ruling that while the ACA’s various reforms are interdependent and designed to work together as features of the individual exchange markets, Congress didn’t intend for the law to apply to all aspects of individual health insurance. For example, he said Congress exempted multiple forms of individual health insurance from the ACA’s reforms and the state-specific risk pools.
“In other words, lawmakers were not rigidly pursuing the ACA-compliant market at all costs, e.g., at the risk of individuals going without insurance altogether,” he said in the ruling. “Moreover, while Congress certainly sought to foster a robust ACA-compliant market, its chosen methods for doing so were embodied by the individual mandate and tax penalty, not the definition of STLDI!”
ACAP, which represents 66 safety-net health plans that collectively provide coverage to more than 20 million people with low incomes or significant health needs, said it remains firm in its belief that the sale of STLDI plans or what it describes as “junk insurance,” violates the ACA and is “arbitrary and capricious.”
“The district court itself recognized that administration’s decision allows junk insurance to compete directly with comprehensive, Affordable Care Act-compliant insurance plans,” ACAP CEO Margaret A. Murray said in a statement. “That result subverts the health care protections of the ACA. Junk insurance, no matter what it’s called, is an inferior and hazardous substitute for comprehensive coverage. We are confident that the appellate court will see this differently.”
Editor’s note: Learn more about this topic at RISE West, which will feature a discussion about the latest ACA actions, as well as the Medicare for All proposals and their potential impact on Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. Molly T. Turco, managing director of legislative policy & regulation, BlueCross Blue Shield Association, will be the speaker of the session, on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 11:15 a.m. For more about the conference, click here to see the complete agenda.