Washington (September 15, 2023) - Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined 21 senators, led by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), in calling on the Biden administration to swiftly enact and continue to strengthen a proposed rule to limit the availability of short-term limited duration insurance (STDLI) plans, or junk plans – which can draw Americans in with low premiums only to provide inadequate coverage, including denying coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

After years of pressure from Senator Baldwin and colleagues, the Biden administration released new draft regulations in July to roll back a 2018 Trump administration effort designed to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that made junk plans more widely available to consumers. Since 2018, these plans have continued to expand, however, they are not required to adhere to important standards, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions; coverage for essential health benefits like maternity care or mental health services; and annual out-of-pocket maximums. Once finalized, the Biden administration’s rule will restore a 90-day limit on the use of STLDI plans, instead of the current four-year maximum, so junk plans can only be used on a temporary basis as intended.

In a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Department of Labor Acting Secretary Julie Su, and Department of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the senators urged the Biden administration to swiftly enact the proposed rule and continue strengthening protections and increasing transparency on junk plans to protect Americans from this inadequate coverage. 

“We applaud your efforts to protect Americans who may have been duped into these junk plans, and urge the Biden administration to swiftly finalize the rule and bolster our collective efforts to expand access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage,” wrote the senators. “With this new proposal, the Biden administration is taking action to better protect consumers and promote access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance.”

In addition to expressing support for the Biden administration’s proposed rule, the senators also urged administration leaders to take further measures to protect consumers as they finalize the new rule on STDLI plans, including cracking down on the practice of “stacking”, or repeatedly enrolling the same consumer in junk plans across different issuers. The senators also called on the Biden administration to do more to bring greater transparency to STDLI plans, including disclosure and reporting requirements, and consider additional protections for individuals who may be shopping for coverage during the annual Open Enrollment period, which is set to begin November 1.

“For too long, junk plans were able to proliferate unchecked, resulting in increased exposure to financial harm for consumers. By finally limiting the duration of these plans and providing better protections for consumers, we are helping ensure that when families spend their hard-earned dollars on health insurance, they get the high-quality coverage they deserve,” concluded the senators.

Joining Senators Markey, Baldwin, Sanders, and Wyden in signing the letter were Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-N.M.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Timothy Kaine (D-Va.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

A full version of the letter is available here.