The Obama administration is proposed rule changes Friday evening that would allow federal officials to switch Obamacare customers’ health insurance plans without their consent.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a 324-page proposed rule centering around 35 different areas of Obamacare in 2016 late Friday afternoon, saying they centered around keeping premiums low for customers. One of the many changes would widen the administration’s job on getting people to re-enroll.
The administration had originally planned to auto-enroll customers who don’t take action to either renew or cancel their coverage. Now they also want the ability to unilaterally switch those customers into different health insurance plans entirely.
The auto-enrollment plan attracted pushback from experts and consumer advocates who pointed out that customers who renewed their old plans, instead of picking a new one each year, would be in store for large premium rate hikes. (RELATED: Flawed Automatic Obamacare Enrollment Plan Likely To Hike Costs)
“We are considering alternative options for re-enrollment, under which consumers who take no action might be defaulted into a lower cost plan rather than their current plan,” the CMS fact sheet on the rule changes reads. “We are considering allowing states to pursue these sorts of re-enrollment alternatives for coverage in 2016. [HealthCare.gov] is exploring such an approach for coverage in 2017.”
The fear of customers facing large rate hikes — and potentially canceling their coverage later on — could be sparking the administration’s proposal to pick out plans for customers themselves. But it would mean that HHS is changing the content of health coverage for Obamacare customers without their consent — with different provider networks, hospitals, doctors and drug benefits.
“It is one of our many goals to strengthen the integrity of programs that fall under the Affordable Care Act to ensure the delivery of quality care with affordable options,” CMS head Tavenner said in a statement. “CMS is working to improve the consumer experience and promote accountability, uniformity and transparency in private health insurance.”
The proposed rule also repeats previous guidance regarding risk corridor payments — funding collected from insurers operated in the exchanges and redistributed to health plans that were hit with the sickest and most expensive patients. The administration is again insisting that if the payments aren’t enough to cover hurting insurers’ costs, “HHS will use other sources of funding” from taxpayers as well.
The GOP is likely to fight HHS over the provision if it comes to what they deem a bailout.