Submitted to www.regulations.gov/docket?D=CMS-2018-0015 April 19, 2018
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Department of Health and Human Services
Little Lobbyists is an organization of families with one thing in common: we all have medically complex children requiring significant medical care. Our mission is to advocate on behalf of the millions of such children across the country to ensure that their stories are heard and their access to quality health care is protected.
America badly needs changes to health care laws and regulations that expand access to care and decrease costs; however, these changes must not come at the expense of necessary care and financial protections for vulnerable children and their families. Unfortunately, that is just what the proposed rule would do. By allowing “short term” insurance plans for up to a year in length that would not contain basic protections provided by the Affordable Care Act – including the prohibition on discrimination against individuals with preexisting conditions and the prohibition of annual caps on medical care – children with complex medical needs across the country, and their families, will be harmed in multiple ways.
As is the case with many medical conditions, parents of children with complex medical needs are frequently not in the position to know about and anticipate the care their children will need, through no fault of their own. For such families, the protections afforded by the Affordable Care Act are literally life-saving. Children born prematurely, or with other complex medical needs, often require extended hospital stays with medical care billed into the millions of dollars. The need for comprehensive medical care frequently continues long after they are finally discharged home. The protections in the Affordable Care Act ensure that insurance providers cannot deny coverage for medical care because their medical bills reach a certain threshold. It ensures that they have access to lifesaving prescription drugs. It ensures that the preexisting conditions these children are born with will not prevent their ability to access care into the future.
The “short-term” insurance plans proposed in this rule eviscerates those protections. Families purchasing such plans for health coverage, whose children subsequently encounter medical difficulties, will soon find these insurance plans to be worthless – failing to cover the specific, life-saving care their child needs, and taking coverage away completely if care becomes too expensive. On top of the trauma and stress that comes with a sick child, these families will face financial ruin as well. While our focus is on medically complex children, this outcome is no less true for any individual who encounters unforeseen medical complications, be it through sickness or an accident.
The damage would not be limited to those families buying short-term plans created by this proposed rule. For those families that remain in ACA-compliant plans to ensure they receive the care their child needs, the cost of insurance premiums would increase, leading to financial hardship – realities that the proposed rule explicitly concedes. Once again, children and families who are most in need of care and financial protection will be the most negatively affected.
As we stated at the outset, America’s health insurance system needs fixing. Access to care must be expanded so that all Americans can receive the care they require, and the cost of this care must be controlled so that financial hardship and bankruptcy due to medical care is reduced to a terrible relic of bygone days. There are ways of meeting this vital goal. Americans demand it. Unfortunately, this proposed rule, which provides a path to less comprehensive care and higher medical costs for our nation’s most vulnerable, is a harmful leap backwards.
On behalf of the millions of children with complex medical needs and their families, we ask that the proposed rule be rescinded and replaced by one that truly sets access to comprehensive and affordable health care for all Americans as its cornerstone.