Sending Office: Committee on Education and Labor – Minority Staff
The Republican Farm Bill Includes Yet Another Attack on Americans’ Health Care
I want to bring your attention to a troubling provision in the already harmful Republican Farm Bill that represents yet another attack on our nation’s health care system.
Buried in the Farm Bill is a provision that would provide federal funding for agricultural associations to skirt consumer protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and offer skimpy insurance that does not meet basic health care needs, including
coverage of essential health benefits. This puts comprehensive and affordable coverage for many farmers at risk.
An expansion of association health plans was included as part of Trumpcare and failed Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal efforts and is the subject of a
proposed rule the administration will soon finalize.
Legal experts, consumer groups, and advocacy groups, including the
National Association of Insurance Commissioners, have raised concerns that efforts to expand the use of association health plans would—
- Limit access to comprehensive health coverage. Without guaranteed coverage for needed benefits, such mental health treatment
and substance use treatment, workers may be left with skimpy and inadequate coverage that neither gives them access to the care they need nor offers adequate financial protection against serious medical conditions.
- Increase costs and threaten coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. As healthier and lower cost consumers get cheap plans with skimpy benefits that may not meet their health needs, older, sicker, and higher cost consumers
or those with pre-existing conditions would be left behind in the traditional market with skyrocketing costs, making it difficult to obtain coverage.
- In fact,
insurers have explicitly pointed to efforts to expand association health plans as a cause for proposed sharp increases in 2019 premiums. Simply put, this could leave other consumers behind and paying more.
- In fact,
- Leave consumers exposed to fraud.
History shows that these plans could leave unknowing consumers on the hook for millions in unpaid medical bills.
At every turn, Republicans have sought to sabotage Americans’ health care. It is clear that this Farm Bill provision is yet another attack on the ACA – at the expense of consumers.
ROBERT C. “BOBBY” SCOTT
Committee on Education and the Workforce
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