Trump administration's expansion of short-term health plans upheld in appeals court

An appeals court upheld the Trump administration's expansion of short-term health plans in a 2-1 decision July 17. 

The case reviewed by the court concerned a final rule in 2018 that expanded the duration of short-term health plans. That rule also allowed short-term health plans to skirt consumer protections established by the ACA, such as the requirement to cover essential health benefits and preexisting conditions. 

HHS and Republican leaders have said expansions of short-term health plans help increase health insurance choices for Americans who face increasing premiums and fewer plan options in the ACA individual market. However, insurance groups and consumer protection agencies have argued the short-term health plans don't offer adequate coverage.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit disagreed with arguments against the rule in a lawsuit filed by the Association for Community Affiliated Plans. The lawsuit argued the expansion of short-term health plans was contrary to law and arbitrary and capricious, but the judges weren't persuaded.

The Association for Community Affiliated Plans will ask the full D.C. Circuit court to hear the case.

A recent investigation from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce found about 3 million Americans had short-term health plans last year, representing a 27 percent increase from 2018.

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