House Dems Request Information on Trump Administration's ACA Changes

June 5, 2019
Jaime Rosenberg

In a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr, D-New Jersey, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Massachusetts, have demanded information on the Trump administration’s changes to the federal marketplace, which they say can cause confusion for enrollees, weaken consumer protections, and further compromise the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr, D-New Jersey, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Massachusetts, demanded information on the Trump administration’s changes to the federal marketplace, which they say can cause confusion for enrollees, weaken consumer protections, and further compromise the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The letter comes amid a legal battle in which the Trump administration is urging a federal court to strike down the entire ACA, arguing that the entire legislation is invalidated without the individual mandate.

The 2 congressmen highlighted several concerns with how a new direct enrollment process poses financial harms to consumers, including:

  • Steering consumers toward short-term limited-duration insurance plans or other options that don’t comply with the ACA or guarantee consumer protections, such as protections for people with pre-existing conditions
  • Creating barriers for people or families to enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • Hindering the ability for consumers to compare marketplace plans, thus stifling competition among private insurance plans

These concerns are heightened, they said, with CMS’ recent decision to support a new enhanced direct enrollment process, which allows consumers to enroll in coverage through a third party, such as an insurer or a web broker. In April, CMS issued a final regulation modifying the requirement applicable to direct enrollment entities, saying they were committed to enhance flixibility for consumers to enroll in coverage through third parties rather than through HealthCare.gov; the regulation is slated to go into effect June 24.

“While the private sector can play a critical role in helping to maximize enrollment in health coverage, the Trump administration should ensure that changes to the federal marketplace enrollment do not erode core consumer protections enshrined in the ACA,” they wrote. “Unfortunately, time and time again, this administration has made it more difficult for millions of consumers to access high-quality, affordable health insurance.”

Based on these concerns, the pair requested a range of information and documents by June 18, including a full list of CMS-approved direct enrollment and enhanced direct enrollment entities, any notices of intent received in connection to participation in the enhanced direct enrollment processes, information on how CMS plans to ensure consumer protections by insurance companies or web brokers, and all documents and communications relating to consumer complaints regarding the direct and enhanced direct enrollment process.