AUGUSTA — Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and members of the Senate Democratic Caucus soundly rejected legislation to bring back junk insurance health plans in a vote of 22-13 on Thursday. The vote comes after the Maine Legislature passed a law putting strict limitations on junk insurance plans in 2019.
“Mainers expect their health insurance plans to cover their basic needs and be there when they are sick or injured. It’s why my colleagues and I championed legislation to put strict limits on short-term health insurance plans, otherwise known as junk insurance plans, last session,” said President Jackson. “Health insurance companies shouldn’t be able to trick Mainers into purchasing these cheap, faulty plans. They shouldn’t be able to sell Mainers a bill of goods only to pull the rug out from underneath them in a health crisis. Today, we once again made it clear that Senate Democrats will always choose Maine people over large insurance companies.”
These junk insurance plans are typically offered as a substitute for comprehensive health care coverage but fail to cover the basics. The plans aren’t subject to the same standards ushered into statute through the Affordable Care Act or Maine’s Act To Protect Health Care Coverage for Maine Families. This means plans can discriminate based on health status, age and gender, exclude coverage of preexisting conditions, impose annual or lifetime limits, opt not to cover entire categories of benefits (such as prescription drugs), rescind coverage, and require higher out-of-pocket cost-sharing than otherwise allowed.
“Federal changes to the Affordable Care Act have made it possible for all Mainers, regardless of their incomelevel, to qualify for subsidies to purchase quality, affordable health care plans. Instead of pushing for short-term plans that are nothing but junk, Maine lawmakers should get getting the word out to constituents that they are eligible for affordable coverage and should sign-up now,” said Sen. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, Chair of the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee. “Mainers can go to CoverME.gov to learn more.”
Short-term health plans often don’t cover the cost of prescription drugs or maternity care. Many states have joined Maine in taking action to protect residents from short-term health plans, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.