By Emily OsterholmUpdated March 25, 2019 07:42:51As President Donald Trump has promised to change the way Americans purchase health insurance, he’s been busy reshaping the health insurance industry.
A new rule that requires most insurers to cover more services in the individual market has been met with resistance from the insurers and the business community.
Trump signed an executive order Friday that directs his Department of Health and Human Services to reevaluate whether insurers are “commercially reasonable” in providing the most comprehensive benefits in the marketplace.
Under the Trump plan, the department would examine whether insurers would be able to offer a wider range of medical services in their plans under a more generous federal payment schedule, or whether the benefits could be more tightly regulated.
The move comes as a federal judge in New York has allowed the administration to begin issuing regulations and guidelines that will require more insurers to offer insurance to people with preexisting conditions, such as cancer, and to offer it at lower premiums.
The president has also promised to slash the Medicare program for seniors by more than $800 billion over 10 years, and he’s announced an overhaul of Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for the poor and elderly.
Trump and his team say that’s because the ACA is too expensive, and it would cost more than the $4.5 trillion in tax cuts he wants in his next budget.
But Trump and his allies have been adamant that the ACA has been the main driver of the Affordable Care Act’s success.
And as the health system has become more complex and the costs of health care have risen, insurers have been pushing for a more comprehensive approach.
“The ACA has had a huge impact on the insurance market, and the ACA and the reforms are going to have a massive impact on what we do in the health sector,” said Steve Bittel, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Bittel said he’s encouraged by the Department of Justice and the White House’s push to address how the health law has impacted the health market.
“I think there’s a sense that they want to make sure that the market is in a better place and they’re trying to create a more streamlined system,” he said.
Trump has also directed his HHS secretary, Tom Price, to draft rules to overhaul the individual health insurance market.
Bettel said the Trump team will be in contact with industry stakeholders and the Congressional Budget Office to get feedback on the plan.
“They’re going to take a look at this,” he added.
“I’m confident that there’s going to be a change.”
Bittels worries about what he called the “corporate takeover” of the health industry.
He said many of the CEOs who have been advising Trump on the health plan have not had experience in the industry, and have little or no understanding of what the health reform is all about.
Bettsons office is in the state of Washington, a blue state with strong ties to insurers and its health care industry.
His office is also in California, which has been a target of the Trump transition team.
Betsel said his office has been working closely with insurers on the proposal.
“We’re working with the industry to see if they’re willing to make a change,” he told reporters on Friday.
“And we’ve also been meeting with the Whitehouse to see what they’re looking at.”
Some experts worry the Trump proposal could exacerbate preexistence insurance market problems.
But Bittels said it’s also likely that the Trump-backed plan would make insurance more affordable, as insurance companies will be able compete for consumers who may be unable to afford premiums.
Betis also worries that a broader focus on how health care is delivered could result in some companies getting more aggressive about offering medical services, while leaving others more vulnerable to price spikes.
Bittell said he and his colleagues in the medical industry are “confident” that the health legislation will bring health care into the 21st century.