Blumenthal urges Wade to ban or restrict short-term health plans

Kyle Constable / file photo

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal has called on Connecticut’s insurance commissioner to ban or restrict short-term health insurance plans, as other states have.

The Trump administration recently 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.

In a letter to Insurance Department Commissioner Katharine Wade, Blumenthal, D-Conn., said these plans are “inherently deceptive and fail to provide critically important coverage.”

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

Arielle Levin Becker / The CT Mirror

Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade.

“Other states, including New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have banned such ‘junk plans’ or put reasonable restrictions in place, recognizing that they are no more than a security blanket — providing a false sense of safety while offering little real protection,” he wrote.

Donna Tommelleo, spokeswoman for the insurance department, said Tuesday that they had received the letter and will be responding to it.

Unlike Affordable Care Act plans, these plans, Blumenthal said, can exclude pre-existing conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental health conditions and past pregnancies. Additionally, these plans aren’t required to cover “common medical expenses,” like maternity care, substance-use disorder treatment, preventive services, mental health treatment and prescription drugs.

“Connecticut should not aid the Trump administration’s efforts to sabotage and undermine the ACA by luring consumers away from exchange policies with the false promise of low cost coverage,” he said in his letter.

Editor’s note: A sentence from this story was removed. The sentence inaccurately said that Connecticut state law currently allows for the sale of skimpy, short-term health plans for a duration of six months or less. State law prohibits the sale of these skimpy, short-term plans, according to the Connecticut Insurance Department.