White House Proposes New Rules to Steady Insurance Markets Under Health Law


The Trump administration proposed new rules on Wednesday to stabilize health insurance markets roiled by efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, by big increases in premiums and by the exodus of major insurers.

The move came a day after Humana announced that, starting next year, it would completely withdraw from the public marketplaces created by former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

The proposed rules, backed by insurance companies, would tighten certain enrollment procedures and cut the health law’s open enrollment period in half, in hopes that a smaller but healthier consumer base will put the marketplaces on sounder financial footing and attract more insurance companies in states with limited choices.

But part of the market’s problem stems from President Trump’s determination to repeal the health law while the White House and Congress struggle to find a politically acceptable replacement. Even as the Department of Health and Human Services worked to answer insurance company concerns, the Internal Revenue Service and Congress were taking steps that could add uncertainty to the jittery insurance economy.

On Capitol Hill, conservatives declared that they are not about to accept a health law replacement that remotely resembles the Affordable Care Act. And the I.R.S. adopted a policy for the coming tax season that could weaken the requirement for people to have insurance. The tax agency said it was reversing one aspect of an Obama administration plan after Mr. Trump, on his first day in office, issued an executive order instructing agencies to reduce burdens imposed by compliance with the Affordable Care Act wherever legally possible.

The proposed rules signal the Trump administration’s urgency in trying to keep other insurers from fleeing the market after Humana’s departure. The company said on Tuesday that it was losing money by insuring too many sick people without enough healthy ones enrolling. Humana had already scaled back its participation to 11 states this year, from 19 in 2016.

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