Letter comes in response to HealthCare.gov’s promotion of third-party online brokers that sell short-term ‘junk’ plans
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and 19 of their colleagues to express concern that the Administration is promoting short-term ‘junk’ health plans. In a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the senators requested that the agencies identify the legal authority used by the Trump Administration’s efforts to promote ‘junk’ plans to the American public during the Open Enrollment period for health insurance coverage. The senators drew attention to the fact that the HealthCare.gov website is now directing consumers during the ongoing Open Enrollment period to ‘junk’ plans through third-party brokers, with little to no information about the lack of coverage provided by these plans that often exclude many of the critical consumer protections required under the Affordable Care Act.
“We are extremely concerned that the increased availability of junk plans and lack of oversight by CMS will cause consumers who believe they are purchasing ACA-compliant health plans to inadvertently sign-up for junk plan coverage that is less comprehensive and could expose them to higher out-of-pocket costs. Americans who purchase these junk plans risk being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions and left vulnerable to unexpected gaps in coverage and massive medical bills in the case of health care emergencies,” the senators wrote.
“We are calling on HHS and CMS to take action to limit the availability of junk plans and take steps to ensure that consumers using HealthCare.gov are being offered comprehensive health insurance, receiving premium tax credits, and being enrolled in Medicaid, if eligible. Furthermore, CMS should take action to hold insurance brokers accountable when they mislead HealthCare.gov customers and misrepresent junk plans as safe alternatives to ACA-complaint health insurance coverage. During this year’s Open Enrollment period, it is essential that you act fast in order to protect consumers.”
The letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Angus King (I-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).
The full text of the letter can be found HERE.