- More than 40 Democrat members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to HHS on Monday urging regulators to take "overdue" action to reverse a Trump-era rule expanding short-term health insurance plans.
- HHS is facing increasing pressure to curtail enrollment in the cheap yet skimpy plans, which aren't required to comply with consumer protections under the Affordable Care Act.
- In the letter, House Democrats said HHS should restore shorter limits for plans, limit their renewability and prevent consumers from being redirected toward short-term plans when searching for traditional insurance coverage.
President Joe Biden slammed the coverage as "junk" during his 2020 presidential campaign, but so far his administration has yet to reverse the Trump-era rule expanding access to the short-term plans.
The bare-bones plans were created to provide stopgap coverage for up to three months. They don't have to cover preexisting conditions, along with protections under the ACA like maternity coverage, outpatient prescription drugs and mental healthcare.
But in 2018, the Trump administration increased the time limit for up to a year, and allowed beneficiaries to renew the plans for up to three years. The policy set off a firestorm of criticism and sparked a legal challenge, with patient advocates, competing insurers and Democrats arguing the move could result in huge surprise medical bills for consumers.
A 2020 probe from House Democrats found the short-term plans widely discriminated against people with preexisting conditions and women, had significant coverage limitations and often misrepresented their benefits in marketing and outreach.
It's unclear how many people are currently covered in short-term plans. The probe found roughly 3 million people enrolled in the coverage in 2019.
In an executive order released earlier this month, Biden directed his agencies to continue reviewing ways they can continue to expand the availability of affordable health coverage and strengthen benefits.
HHS said it planned to propose a fix to short-term health plans by August 2022 in its rulemaking agenda released last year, though Democrats on the Hill want to see faster action.
Monday's letter mirrors one sent to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in February from 40 Senate Democrats, which said "it is past time" for action.