February 12, 2021
Protecting Consumer-Friendly Options –– Newsletter Issue #117

The $1.9 trillion, deficit-spending reconciliation bill is speeding through Congress, auspiciously to provide funding for Covid relief.  Republicans have offered bipartisan solutions to craft a targeted bill with more limited taxpayer assistance to address pressing problems. But it appears Speaker Pelosi plans to use her ultra-narrow majority to ram through the bill which one analyst called a “crass bailout” with paybacks to countless Democrat constituencies and little or no relevance to the pandemic.

Many conservatives feel irrelevant in this current environment, but we aren’t giving up at all.  The first thing we can do is protect the advances made to create choice and competition in the health insurance market.
A new paper by Galen Senior Fellow Brian Blase does just that.  His paper was the topic of a supportive editorial in today’s The Wall Street Journal.  In “Biden’s Short-Term Thinking,” the Journal asks if President Biden really would “restrict a useful health insurance option” that more than three million people purchase each year.
Instead of a one-time enrollment of just 90 days under Obama administration restrictions, the 2018 rule Blase helped to shepherd through during his service in the White House allows the plans to be renewable for up to three years.  They are more affordable because they don’t have to comply with the ACA’s expensive and burdensome mandates and regulations.

Speaker Pelosi has claimed the new short-term plan rule is “railroading vulnerable families into shoddy junk health insurance plans.” But the Obama administration’s goal was to railroad people into Obamacare exchange plans where premiums had doubled in the first four years and were out of reach to millions of families not eligible for subsidies.
Blase’s original research demonstrates that individual health insurance markets in states can be improved by the choice and competition short-term plans provide.
The Journal quotes Blase as explaining that states “that permit short-term plans have lost fewer enrollees in the individual market, have had far more insurers offer coverage in the market, and have had larger premium reductions since the 2018 rule took effect. The only states where individual market premiums have increased since 2018 are the five states that effectively prohibit short-term plans.”
The editorial concludes: “Mr. Blase notes short-term plans could be making other insurers more efficient in order to compete—and that it’s better for the health of the individual market if those who fall ill are covered by short-term plans instead of then switching to ACA plans.”
Here is a link to Blase’s full paper, “Individual Health Insurance Markets Improving in States that Fully Permit Short-Term Plans.”

Upcoming Webinar!  You can hear Brian Blase and Galen Senior Fellow Doug Badger on a webinar, “Assessing President Biden's Obamacare Expansion Proposals,” this coming Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m. These two top health policy experts explain what to expect in the reconciliation bill and other legislation to come.  Don’t miss it!

The event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Policy Innovation and the Galen Institute.  Register here.  
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