As usual, President Donald Trump is either ignorant or lying about his own policies. This time, it’s so ridiculously obvious that correcting the record might sound fake.
During an event Thursday at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Trump was very excited to report that “incredible” numbers of people were signing up for association health plans, a form of coverage his administration is making easier to buy. He’s right about one thing: That truly is incredible, in that it’s the opposite of credible.
Trump didn’t use the term ”association health plans” in his remarks, but he did repeatedly praise Alexander Acosta, the secretary of labor, whose department published the regulations governing these policies last month, so it’s clear what Trump is referring to.
“I hear it’s like record business that they’re doing,” Trump said. “We just opened about two months ago, and I’m hearing that the numbers are incredible. Numbers of people that are getting really, really good health care instead of Obamacare, which is a disaster.”
To recap: zero people have actually enrolled in this insurance because it is literally impossible to do so until Sept. 1 at the earliest. And as for Obamacare being a “disaster,” its current problems have a lot to do with Trump himself.
Association health plans are policies that allow small companies in the same industry to band together to buy health benefits for their employees. These already existed before Trump, and before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010.
President Barack Obama’s administration made them comply with the Affordable Care Act’s rules requiring health plans to provide a minimum, basic set of benefits (things like prescription drugs and maternity care) and limited how insurers could set prices based on the health status of the workers.
The Trump administration is changing that. These association health plans could evade the benefit rules and also charge premiums based on workers ages, occupations and places of business.
Association health plans may save some employees and employers money because they offer skimpier benefits, although those savings could be negated if an employee needs care not covered by her plan and has to pay out of pocket.