Trump Administration Order to Stabilize the Health Insurance Market

Health and Human Services secretary-nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) arrives for testimony before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee January 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony on Price's nomination to be the head of the Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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The Trump administration proposed a new rule to stabilize the individual and the small-group health insurance market.

The proposal seeks to ensure continuity for health insurers and individuals worried about the turbulence of any Obamacare repeal. Congressional Republicans are still working out Obamacare repeal. Alan Murray, CEO of CareConnect, said the rule is “a step in the right direction.” He continued, “It definitely doesn’t go far enough to stabilize the insurance markets.”

The proposed rule is meant to maintain the Obamacare system until Republicans unveil their Obamacare repeal package.

The Obamacare exchanges are facing lower engagement. Humana announced it will be dropping out of the exchanges in 2018. Other major insurers such as Aetna, Anthem, and Cigna will soon decide their future participation in the Obamacare exchanges. Aetna chief executive Mark Bertolini said that Obamacare is on a “death spiral.” Molina Healthcare suffered a significant loss on the federal exchanges and will be evaluating its future participation in the exchanges on a state by state basis for 2018. The Trump administration plans to extend the federal deadline for insurers’ filing for states.

The Trump administration plans to keep the Obamacare exchanges afloat while Republicans prep a replacement. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that in 2017, 32% of U.S. counties have just one exchange insurer, up from 7% in 2016.

The proposed Obamacare rule would shorten the enrollment time for Obamacare changes, allow states greater authority to review the adequacy of health networks, and require verification for people buying insurance outside the official sign-up period. Insurers would have greater decision power on the amount of health care costs they can cover on exchange plans.

This rule reflects a change in strategy for the Trump administration, where President Trump once promised to swiftly repeal Obamacare, they now promise to provide stability until Congress enacts an Obamacare replacement. Trump admitted that an Obamacare replacement might not happen until next year.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price called this proposal a first step in helping Americans get better access to health care. He said, “These are initial steps in advance of a broader effort to reverse the harmful effects of Obamacare, promote solutions to improve access to quality, affordable care, and ensure we have a health care system that best serves the needs of America.”