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The Trump administration finally released a long-awaited rule that would allow significant expansion of health insurance policies that do not meet all the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, both in terms of what they cover and how much they charge.

The administration says it wants to broaden the availability of so-called short-term insurance plans to give people who buy their own insurance more choices of lower-cost coverage. Critics say that the plans would draw the healthiest people out of the plans that meet the ACA’s requirements, driving up premiums for those who remain in that market.

And in the wake of last week’s tragic school shooting in Florida, attention is once again turning to the issue of a long-standing federal funding ban on most gun-related public health research.

This week’s panelists for KHN’s “What the Health?” are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Julie Appleby of Kaiser Health News.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • The Trump administration’s proposal for short-term insurance plans may offer some less expensive coverage options, but those plans have a history of leaving patients on the hook if they develop health problems.
  • Federal health officials estimated that as many as 200,000 people now buying ACA plans might instead move to buy the short-term plans being proposed. But many analysts suspect the number could be much higher — and that will mean the prices could rise dramatically in the ACA marketplace plans and cost the federal government more money for the premiums it subsidizes.
  • Idaho’s proposal to allow plans that don’t meet ACA requirements is being watched closely, but federal officials have not yet tipped their hands about how they will react.
  • Although Congress has restricted funding for federal research into gun violence, studies are going forward by other academic researchers.
  • A growing divide among consumers is raising concerns. People who buy their own insurance are more frustrated as their costs continue to go up while they see others getting coverage paid for by the ACA subsidies or the expansion of Medicaid.
  • Democrats are seizing on the growing concerns over price among people who buy their own insurance to propel talks about establishing a way for more people to be covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

Plus, for “extra credit,” the panelists recommend their favorite health stories of the week they think you should read, too.

Julie Rovner: The New York Times’ “As Some Got Free Health Care, Gwen Got Squeezed: An Obamacare Dilemma,” by Abby Goodnough.

Margot Sanger-Katz: HuffPost’s “The Liberal Establishment Suddenly Sounds Very Ambitious On Health Care,” by Jonathan Cohn.

Julie Appleby: Vox.com’s “Idaho’s Brazen Plan To Unravel Obamacare, Explained,” by Dylan Scott.

Stephanie Armour: The Washington Post’s “Bad Beside Manner: Bank Loans Signed In The Hospital Leave Patients Vulnerable,” by Shefali Luthra of Kaiser Health News.

To hear all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to What the Health? on iTunesStitcher or Google Play.

 

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