The Presidential action to alter current US law risks undermining progress made by Congress, the American people, and a cadre of healthcare stakeholders to improve care access, care quality, and care costs for us all as we age, so say experts at the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) evaluating recent orders by the Trump Administration.
The actions in question — one announcing non-specific priorities to increase competition and another terminating cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) serving Americans in poverty — take aim at the Affordable Care Act (ACA) following several flawed unilateral attempts to repeal or replace the law.
“In bypassing Congress and bipartisan collaboration, these executive actions cut the American people out of the health reform process while also effectively jeopardizing benefits, increasing costs, and reducing coverage for too many of us,” said Nancy E. Lundebjerg, MPA, Chief Executive Officer of the AGS. “We continue to offer our support and expertise to the many bipartisan legislators and experts working across the aisle on proposals that would give us all the opportunity to make open, informed decisions about a better health system.”
In an Executive Order issued Thursday, Oct. 12, President Trump announced his general priorities for association health plans; short-term, limited-duration insurance; and health reimbursement arrangements aimed at “provid[ing] meaningful choice or competition.” Without greater clarity on how the Administration intends to develop these priorities as policies, however, experts at the AGS and across healthcare already have voiced concern that such action could lead to increased costs and reduced protections for those who need health coverage most.
Even more troubling, the White House also announced today that it would terminate payments intended by the ACA to assist insurers in offering CSRs for people and families living in poverty. The effect of terminating these payments has already been well analyzed, including a report from the Congressional Budget Office noting that curtailing CSRs would lead to considerable premium increases for consumers as insurers worked to cover cost gaps.
In light of these concerns, the AGS continues to call for stakeholder input, public hearings, and ample opportunities for feedback on health reform from the American public. “Doing so,” said Lundebjerg, “is our best chance for a future when all of us can have access to high-quality, person-centered, and affordable health care.”