WASHINGTON (CN) – Patient advocates and healthcare groups sued the Trump administration Friday for what they claim is a move to curb health insurance access to people with pre-existing conditions.
In a federal complaint filed in Washington, D.C., the plaintiffs – which include the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, AIDS United and others – claim the administration’s latest rule on expanding short-term plans, in effect, runs contrary to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, usually abbreviated as ACA.
“Like any law, the ACA can be repealed by an act of Congress. But Congress has repeatedly rejected attempts to repeal the ACA. Now, with the issuance of the [short-term limited duration insurance] rule, the departments seek by executive fiat what could not be accomplished through the required constitutional process,” the 50-page filing says.
In a statement Friday, Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, defended the short term insurance plans, saying they were an “important option for people in certain circumstances.”
The department is named in the complaint along with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Labor and their respective secretaries Steve Mnuchin, R. Alexander Costa and Alex Azar.
Short term medical insurance is, essentially, a low cost insurance plan which covers a limited period but offers fewer benefits.
The plans are also less encumbered by consumer regulations, a feature the administration favored in its move to solidify the rule last month.
“[Providers] will not receive payment under [the short term insurance policy] for all of the care that is required to be covered by ACA-complaint individual health insurance plans,” the plaintiff’s attorney, Andrew Pincus of the D.C. firm Mayer Brown LLP, writes in the complaint.
“It will be more expensive and perhaps impossible for some individuals with pre-existing conditions to obtain health care and health insurance coverage,” he said.