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  • Washington Highlights

    Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Holds Legislative Hearing on ACA

    Jason Kleinman, Senior Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations

    The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Feb. 13 held a legislative hearing focused on reversing several recent regulatory changes made by the Trump administration to the Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148 and P.L. 111-152). The hearing was a follow-up to the subcommittee’s Feb. 8 hearing on the Texas v. United States court case and its impact on Americans with pre-existing conditions [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 8].

    The subcommittee examined four pieces of legislation, which, according to Committee Chair Frank Pallone’s (D-N.J.) opening remarks, are “important first steps in lowering health care costs and protecting consumers with pre-existing conditions.”

    The subcommittee reviewed two bills related to the Trump administration’s expansion of short-term, limited-duration health insurance (STLDI) plans. The first, H.R. 1010, introduced by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), would overturn the recent final rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor, and Department of Treasury, which expands STLDI policies from three months to up to 12 months with the ability to renew plans for up to 36 months. The AAMC submitted comments in opposition to this proposal, noting that these plans are not subject to minimal essential coverage requirements under the ACA, which could leave many individuals without adequate coverage and potentially limit access to care [see Washington Highlights, April 27, 2018].

    The subcommittee also discussed Health Subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo’s (D-Calif.) bill (H.R. 1143) to require insurers to disclose the risks of STLDI to prospective consumers and prohibit insurers from enrolling individuals in STLDI during the ACA’s annual open enrollment period.

    Additionally, the subcommittee reviewed Rep. Ann Kuster’s (D-N.H.) bill (H.R. 986) to rescind an October 2018 guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Treasury to allow states to utilize Section 1332 waivers to offer insurance plans that do not meet requirements set forth under the ACA. The AAMC submitted comments expressing concern about the proposed guidance and urged CMS to revise and reissue the guidance.

    The final bill the subcommittee discussed during the hearing is in response to the Trump administration’s decision to reduce funding for consumer outreach and enrollment education activities from $100 billion to $10 billion for the 2018 ACA open enrollment period. Rep. Blunt Rochester’s (D-Del.) bill (H.R. 987) would increase the funding back up to $100 million and maintain that level for 2019 open enrollment.

    Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) reiterated his goal to “work together to help states stabilize health care markets, cut out-of-pocket costs, promote access to preventative services, encourage participation in private health insurance, and increase the number of options available through the market.” He added, “these bills do not adequately address these goals.”