White House Leaves One Trump-Era Policy Alone

The Biden administration has gutted many of former President Donald Trump’s health care policies, but there’s one that the White House has yet to touch, Kelly reports.

It’s a 2019 rule that expanded individual coverage health reimbursement arrangements, or ICHRAs, which allowed employers to provide tax-exempt subsidies to help workers purchase Obamacare plans.

The Biden administration’s lack of action puzzles left-leaning health care advocates, who say the Trump rule lets employers dump sicker, more expensive employees onto the Affordable Care Act exchanges, raising premiums for everyone else.

They worry that if President Joe Biden doesn’t reverse the ICHRA expansion soon, the rule could become entrenched and impossible to scrap. In June, the House passed the CHOICE Act — which would codify Trump’s ICHRA rule. That legislation is going nowhere in the Senate, but some fear that it could end up in a year-end package as an inducement to bring Republicans on board.

The White House declined to comment. HHS didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Employer uptake of ICHRA has been slow, but interest is growing as companies face soaring health costs. ICHRAs can save employers money by protecting them from rising insurance costs, and proponents argue that employees like the option because they choose a plan tailored to their needs.

Brian Blase, a former Trump policy adviser who helped shepherd the ICHRA rule, argues the arrangements bolster the ACA by bringing younger, healthier workers into Obamacare plans. He contends the Biden administration hasn’t touched Trump’s ICHRA rule because it would be a “major undertaking” to unwind the regulation, and “they would have to go through very time intensive notice and comment rulemaking.”

“They don’t have the bandwidth, time or motivation, and why would they want to rescind a rule that expands Obamacare coverage?” Blase said. “It would make some of their past positions just totally look hypocritical.”


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