At a rally earlier this week, President Trump promised "great health plans" coming out in the next four weeks. He's also planning to release a long-awaited proposal today to bring down prescription drug prices in the U.S., a topic that has triggered dramatic responses in the drug manufacturing stock market in the past few months. While its unclear how these changes will pan out and how "great" the health plans will be, we hope that it a solid move in the right direction in terms of affordability for individuals and small businesses.
First, a recap
To catch you up to speed, Obamacare has survived more than one failed repeal and replace attempt. The individual mandate has been repealed. The comments period is over following an executive order expected to make sweeping changes with short term plans, QSEHRAs, and association health plans. And more recently, CMS issued a new rule to promote flexibility and affordable premiums.
So what happened now?
Lowering prescription prices
Next on the President's agenda is drug prices, which is a key piece of lowering healthcare costs and health insurance costs across the board. Today, the president plans to release a proposal to bring down U.S. drug prices, making good on a campaign promise. Senior officials briefed reporters yesterday on the new plan, which will be called American Patients First. The basic idea is that it will increase pharmaceutical competition and decrease out of pocket costs for patients. To do that, a few things would happen at the same time. First, it would lift rules that prevent government programs from getting better discounts. Second, it would push other developed countries with tighter price controls to pay more. It would also incentivize drug companies to lower list prices and would attempt to prevent monopolies among drug makers that take advantage of the system for their own benefit. After today's announcement, we will have more details for you on this topic.
What's next for Trump's executive order?
From an executive order issued this past October, President Trump directed the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury Departments to consider expanding the availability of cheaper short‐term plans, limited‐duration insurance and health reimbursement arrangements (QSEHRA) and reduce regulations on association health plans (AHPs), allowing individuals and small businesses to band together and purchase health insurance policies across state lines and avoid certain ACA requirements.
As the comments period recently came to a close, 39 different free-market health care economists and policy analysts comprising the Health Policy Consensus Group issued public letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They argued that the Obama administration’s restrictions on these plans violates a law that reserves such regulation to the states. While the agency is not allowed to make a final rule based off public comments (it's supposed to be based on scientific data, expert opinions, and accumulated facts), a final ruling has not been issued. It's possible that the "great" health plans the President referenced in his rally earlier this week refer to the longer duration short-term plans, but only time will tell.
Take Command Health is committed to keep you informed about policy updates that will affect your wallet. While there's a lot of moving pieces and confusing "D.C." jargon, we're here to help you stay informed. Click the orange button below to get these helpful updates in your inbox!