It Isn’t News That Trump Wants to Keep Pre-Existing Condition Reforms


The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CBS News and other news outlets have led with headlines over the weekend touting the big news that Donald Trump is willing to keep parts of the Affordable Care Act––notably the pre-existing condition protections and the ability for children up to the age of 26 to stay on their parents policies.

Except this isn’t news.

In May, Trump’s policy advisor told Healthline that a Trump administration would consider keeping the children to age 26 provision.

And, then there is this February debate exchange between Trump and a CNN moderator:

TRUMP: “I want to keep pre-existing conditions [the Obamacare provision that prohibits insurers from denying coverage]. I think we need it. I think it’s a modern age. And I think we have to have it.”

DANA BASH: “Okay, so let’s talk about pre-existing conditions. What the insurance companies say is that the only way that they can cover people is to have a mandate requiring everybody purchase health insurance. Are they wrong?”

TRUMP: “I think they’re wrong 100 percent….We should have gotten rid of the lines around each state so we can have real competition…we should have gotten rid of the borders; we should have gotten rid of the lines around the state so there’s great competition. The insurance companies are making a fortune on every single thing they do. I’m self-funding my campaign. I’m the only one in either party self-funding my campaign. I’m going to do what’s right. We have to get rid of the lines around the states so that there’s serious, serious competition….”

BASH: “But, just to be specific here, what you’re saying is getting rid of the barriers between states, that is going to solve the problem…”

TRUMP: “That’s going to solve the problem….Look, the insurance companies are making an absolute fortune. Yes, they will keep preexisting conditions, and that would be a great thing. Get rid of Obamacare, we’ll come up with new plans. But, we should keep preexisting conditions”…Trump’s argument about “getting rid of the lines,” or letting carriers sell across state lines, is another matter, but Trump was pretty clear back in February–”they [the health plans] will keep preexisting conditions.”

That begs the question, How can we get rid of the dreaded Obamacare individual mandate and the fines for not buying coverage while forcing health plans to cover people with pre-existing conditions?

Trump was right when he said we don’t need the individual mandate to still cover people with pre-existing conditions. There are a number of ways to get people covered and give them the incentive to stay covered:

Republicans have consistently proposed state-run high risk pools as a place for those who fall out of coverage could go to get coverage–albeit from the high risk pool, not the insurer. But that would mean segregating these people into state-run pools that have a long history of being underfunded, expensive for consumers, burdened with limited benefits, and enrollment caps.

The most cost efficient way to do it–and do it in mainstream health insurance–is to require health plans to cover these people as we do now but permanently protect the health plans from their costs through a self sustaining revenue neutral risk pool. Such a reinsurance pool could be created from an assessment on all individual health insurance market premiums and allocated to the carriers based upon such claim costs.

 Bob Laszewski is a veteran health policy observer and president of health policy and strategy associates.

Categories: Uncategorized

3 replies »

  1. I can see it now. We get rid of the mandate that requires people to buy health insurance. We allow healthy people to buy a low cost underwritten health insurance plan with pretax dollars. We turn the ACA exchange plans into explicit high risk pools so anyone who flunks medical underwriting can go to the exchanges and buy a policy for whatever the insurers think they need to charge. Individuals who need these plans will have their premium capped at 10% of MAGI with no income ceiling for subsidy eligibility. For those with income between 300% of the FPL down to the Medicaid eligibility level, their maximum percentage of MAGI would decline on a sliding scale basis from 10% down to zero at the Medicaid eligibility level where it will be fully funded by taxpayers. Federal taxpayers will also make up the difference between what high risk pool members pay in premiums and whatever the medical claims plus administrative costs and profit turn out to be. We’ll have a federal backstop against insurer losses to accomplish that. Heck, we don’t even have to raise taxes. We can just keep borrowing money from foreign investors and pass the bill on to our kids and grandkids. Trump would probably think it all makes perfect sense since he loves debt so much. Just for fun, we can also get rid of the lines around the states.

  2. A reference to something that Donald Trump said in the past is unpersuasive and irrelevant.

  3. I tweeted The Donald:

    Memo to @realDonaldTrump: you will not be able to fire Congress, and its 535 egos as Yuge as yours. You are now The Apprentice.