Key Democrat announces investigation into 'junk' healthcare plans backed by Trump

By | March 13, 2019

House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., announced Wednesday that the panel is launching an investigation into so-called junk insurance plans backed by the Trump administration.

“We actually sent a series of letters to 12 entities, insurance companies, three brokers,” Pallone said during a speech at the America’s Health Insurance Plans’ National Health Policy Conference. “Basically, this investigation is to try and better understand what kinds of plans they’re selling, how they’re being marketed, and business practices associated with these plans.”

“Junk insurance” refers to short-term insurance plans, renewable for up to three years, enacted by the Trump administration as alternatives to Obamacare plans. The plans are not required to have the essential benefits mandated by Obamacare, such as prescription drug coverage, maternity care, or mental health treatment, and they are not required to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

“Part of the problem with junk plans is that people think that it covers whatever they have. And they don’t realize until they face the reality that they don’t cover everything they thought they were going to have,” Pallone said. “I’m very concerned that many consumers are being misled to believe these plans comply with the patient protections under the Affordable Care Act.”

Pallone said the complexity of healthcare plans makes it easier for insurers and brokers to prey on consumers.

Pallone also said House Democrats plan to focus on shoring up Affordable Care Act provisions rather than enacting a “Medicare for all” policy of the kind backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and other Democratic presidential candidates. He said enacting change within a deeply divided Congress would be nearly impossible.