Junk plans can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and don’t have to cover essential services like maternity care, prescription drugs, substance use disorder treatment and emergency room care

Text of the Letter (PDF)

Washington (February 22, 2023) – Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined 32 colleagues, led by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), in a letter urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take immediate action and address short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI) plans, or junk plans, which fail to provide adequate, comprehensive health insurance coverage.

In 2018, in an effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Trump Administration made junk plans more widely available to consumers. Since then, these plans have continued to expand. However, they are not required to adhere to important standards, including prohibitions on discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, coverage for the ten essential health benefit (EHB) categories, and annual out-of-pocket maximums.

“Now, more than ever, the Department of Health and Human Services must act. Beginning in April, millions of Americans will likely lose the Medicaid coverage that they have relied upon during the COVID-19 pandemic. We must protect those who will be looking for coverage in the near future, and take steps to ensure that these plans are not allowed to further proliferate,” wrote the senators. “It is past time for your Department to step up and address the expansion and proliferation of junk plans.”

In February 2022, Senators Baldwin and Murphy led a letter to the Biden Administration urging them to act quickly to limit STLDI plans. In July 2021, Senators Baldwin and Murphy penned an op-ed in Health Affairs calling on President Biden to end the health care sabotage of the previous administration and get more Americans enrolled in high-quality, affordable, health insurance. Thanks to the Baldwin-backed American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act, comprehensive coverage through the ACA marketplace is more affordable. Both bills expanded premium tax credits for low-and middle-income Wisconsinites and lowered health insurance premiums for working families, lowering health care costs for Wisconsin families and expanding access to affordable health care for millions of Americans.

During the 117th Congress, Senator Baldwin introduced the Junk Plan Accountability and Disclosure Act to protect consumers from being misled into enrolling in junk plans that fail to offer comprehensive coverage. Additionally, Senator Baldwin introduced the No Junk Plans Act to entirely overturn the Trump-era rule expanding junk health insurance plans. In the previous administration, Senator Baldwin led letters to HHS and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to limit the use of the junk plans.

In addition to Senators Markey, Baldwin and Murphy, the letter was signed by Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-N.V.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Timothy Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

Full text of the letter can be found here