The White House and allies portray the president’s move to expand access to “association health plans” as wielding administrative powers to accomplish what congressional Republicans have failed to achieve: tearing down the law’s insurance marketplaces and letting some Americans buy skimpier coverage at lower prices. Critics, who include state insurance commissioners, most of the health-insurance industry and mainstream policy specialists, predict that a proliferation of such health plans will have damaging ripple effects: driving up costs for consumers with serious medical conditions and prompting more insurers to flee the law’s marketplaces. Part of Trump’s actions, they predict, will spark court challenges over their legality.
Association Health Plans bypass state regulation
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is among the groups that have long opposed any expansion of coverage that bypasses state regulation. In congressional testimony in February, the NAIC said allowing health plans to be sold without requiring either state licenses or federal approval “would result in less protections for the most vulnerable populations and the collapse of individual markets.”