Blumenthal presses state for protections in ‘short-term’ health plans

Kyle Constable / CTMirror.org file photo

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal: “…plans that have more holes than Swiss cheese.”

Washington – Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Thursday said he’s talked with state officials about placing consumer protections on any new health insurance policies sold in Connecticut once the new Trump administration regulation on short-term plans takes effect in about 60 days.

Blumenthal said the state officials were “noncommittal” about his request, but he’d keep the pressure up.

“I will be strongly advocating that Connecticut protect its consumers against plans that have more holes than Swiss cheese,” he said.

The Trump administration on Wednesday released new rules that would allow the sale of cheaper, skimpier health care plans that were originally intended for short-term use – not more than three months — but would now be available for nearly 12 months at a time.

Under the new regulations, these plans could be renewed for up to three years.

But it’s up to state officials to allow the sale of these short-term plans, which do not have to cover pre-existing conditions or provide the comprehensive coverage the Affordable Care Act requires.

This is a picture of Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade.

Arielle Levin Becker / The CT Mirror

Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade.

Blumenthal said he wants the Connecticut Insurance Department, headed by Katharine Wade, to allow only plans that cover pre-existing conditions, full prescription benefits and other coverage on the market.

Insurers say that would bankrupt them as people would sign up for coverage only when they became sick.

But for Democrats like Blumenthal, the short-term plans are no more than “junk insurance” that give people “a false sense of security,” but fail to help them when they need medical care.

“It’s like a car without an engine,” Blumenthal said. “It works fine until you try to start it.”

On Wednesday, a Connecticut Insurance Department spokeswoman said the agency is reviewing the new rules for short-term plans and had no comment. Neither did it respond to a request for comment on Blumenthal’s position.

Other states, including New Jersey and Massachusetts, regulate short-term plans to make them follow nearly all the same insurance rules that the Affordable Care Act plans have. In some of those states, carriers have decided against offering any short-term plans at all.

 

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