News Releases

Senators urge the administration to protect Americans’ health care

Senators: “This rule could harm people with pre-existing conditions, raise costs on older Americans, and promote plans that exclude basic benefits including hospitalization, prescription drugs, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and maternity care”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined 45 other senators urging the Trump administration to halt the implementation of a health care proposal that could threaten access to quality, affordable care for people in Washington state, especially those with pre-existing conditions. The proposal would mean the expansion of previously limited short-term health insurance plans to year-long “junk” plans that can exclude basic health benefits including hospitalization, prescription drugs, maternity care, and substance abuse treatment.

During the open comment period on the proposed rule, patient advocates, health providers, and others overwhelmingly condemned the administration’s plan, asserting the expanded sale and marketing of short-term “junk plans” will negatively affect coverage.

“On the proposal to expand the sale and marketing of short-term, ‘junk plans,’ as we previously expressed, this rule could harm people with pre-existing conditions, raise costs on older Americans, and promote plans that exclude basic benefits including hospitalization, prescription drugs, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and maternity care,” the senators wrote in a letter to the secretaries of the Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor. “…This rule should not be finalized and implemented because it threatens access to quality, affordable care for millions of Americans. Instead, we ask you again to work with us to improve our health care system and lower health care costs for American families.”

The senators expressed serious concerns with the administration’s plan to allow the sale and marketing of short-term “junk” health insurance plans, citing the Los Angeles Timesanalysis that found the comments submitted to the Center for Medicare and Medicare Services about the rule were overwhelmingly critical, and that “[n]ot a single group representing patients, physicians, nurses or hospitals voiced support in the public comments for the two Trump administration proposals.”

The senators previously raised their concerns to the administration in April, saying the new rule would hurt Americans’ health coverage.

The Times’ analysis found that 233 patient and consumer advocates, 17 physician groups, 30 nursing associations, 11 hospital groups, and 41 groups representing other medical providers, such as physical therapists, social workers, physician assistants, and multiple sclerosis clinics, filed critical comments. More than 98% of the health care groups that commented on the proposal expressed criticism, in many cases warning that the rule could gravely hurt sick patients.

The administration’s rule would expand the three month limited-duration insurance plans intended to fill temporary gaps in coverage to 12 month plans or beyond, creating a permanent market for these bare-bones plans. These short-term plans allow insurance companies to skirt the requirements that they protect patients with pre-existing conditions, letting them force families to fill out medical questionnaires when applying, which are often used to deny coverage or charge more based on a pre-existing condition.

The full text of the letter can be found HERE.