The Trump administration today threw cold water on Idaho's plan to ignore key Obamacare requirements, telling the red state that it must follow the health care law.
Idaho was moving to let insurers offer plans that don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s robust coverage rules -- including protections for pre-existing conditions and mandated benefits – in a bid to expand the availability of cheaper health plans. The idea has sparked considerable interest from other red states that have long opposed Obamacare.
But Trump administration health officials, who’ve worked to unwind Obamacare through regulation and have encouraged states to pursue alternative coverage options, said that they ultimately had to make sure the law is enforced as long as it’s on the books.
“CMS is committed to working with states to give them as much flexibility as permissible under the law to provide their citizens the best possible access to healthcare. However, the Affordable Care Act remains the law," read a statement from CMS, which oversees the law's insurance marketplaces.
Under Obamacare, states are the primary enforcers of the law's private insurance rules, but the federal government is required to step in if a state chooses to not do so.
Several legal experts contended that the Idaho proposal, announced earlier this year, was a clear violation of Obamacare.
Blue Cross of Idaho three weeks ago introduced five health plans under the proposed coverage scheme that it hoped to begin selling next month. State officials and Blue Cross argued that their their proposal passes legal muster, contending that Idaho would still be substantially enforcing the 2010 health care law.
Federal health officials instead encouraged Idaho to take up the administration’s recent proposal to expand the availability of short-term, limited duration plans. These plans are exempt from many of Obamacare’s coverage rules, but critics deride them as “junk insurance” that cherry pick healthy customers and offer extremely limited coverage.