Once again the California legislature has put politics above the people’s needs. If it’s not raising electric rates in a vain attempt to save the planet, or wasting precious water needed for crops to preserve tiny fish, it’s propping up a failed healthcare system, ObamaCare, instead of making it easier for Californians to get healthcare.
Trump Improvements to ObamaCare
Less than two weeks ago I wrote a post highlighting the ways the Trump administration had taken steps to alleviate some of the suffering caused by ObamaCare (Trump Improvements in ObamaCare Helping Millions). This listed four significant improvements that make it possible for Americans who can’t afford the expensive ObamaCare policies to find relief. Those four improvements were:
- Short-term, limited duration plans (STLD) – These plans are free from most ObamaCare regulations, lowering their costs by 50 – 80 percent.
- Renewable plans – These plans allow consumers to stay on their affordable coverage for up to 36 months and lock in low rates in their plans even if they get sick.
- Ending the Individual Mandate – President Trump has already signed the legislation that will eliminate the onerous Individual Mandate, that forced all Americans to purchase healthcare insurance or pay a tax penalty, beginning in 2019.
- Association Health Plans – The Trump administration Labor Department has made it easier for small businesses and self-employed Americans to band together to purchase more affordable insurance through these plans. (see earlier post ObamaCare Relief for Small Business)
California Rejects Relief
But now the California legislature, in an obvious attempt to push back against all things Trump, has rejected the STLD plans. This bill currently sits on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk awaiting his signature.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board says critics consider these STLD plans to be junk insurance because they aren’t required to provide all the ObamaCare mandated coverage, such as mental health services. Yet they still must be subject to California’s state benefit mandates and thus must cover treatments for diabetes and other commonly needed healthcare services.
In 2017 the average short-term plan sold in California by online broker eHealth cost $184 a month compared to $426 for a midlevel plan on the ObamaCare exchanges. An estimated 600,000 Californians would select a STLD plan next year if given the choice.
But the California legislature doesn’t want to give them that choice. In a classic example of “ruling class” thinking, they don’t believe the people should be allowed to make their own choices. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic state Senator Ed Hernandez, says that STLD plans offer a “false sense of security.” But the Trump rule requires that insurers inform customers in a prominent place that the insurance isn’t as comprehensive as ObamaCare plans.
Alex M. Azar, II, the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), says opinions on ObamaCare fall into two categories: those who receive generous government subsidies and therefore love ObamaCare; and those who pay the full brunt of these expensive plans and therefore can’t afford ObamaCare. These STLD plans were designed to give the second group an affordable alternative.
Democrats in other states, like Illinois, have also tried to prohibit renewability guarantees to clamp down on STLD options. But Republican Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed that bill. Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin is pushing a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to reject the Administration’s short-term rule.
These misguided attempts to resist changes to ObamaCare by the Trump administration are blatant efforts to oppose Trump – at the expense of those citizens of their state they were elected to represent. This is a sad example of how politics has become more important than people.