Health and Human Services (HHS) head Alex Azar, when pressed about the legality of Idaho’s plan to market non-Affordable Care Act (ACA) health policies, affirmed his support for the 2010 legislation that in essence federalizes standards for health insurance.
“I’m not aware that our opinions or views have been solicited,” Azar said. “There are rules, and there’s a rule of law that we need to enforce.”
Azar was questioned by a congressional panel after Democrats denounced as illegal Idaho’s recent move, which utilizes the vehicle of an executive action by Republican Gov. Butch Otter to authorize so-called state-based health plans.
Idaho will begin selling health plans that do not meet all the standards of the ACA in an effort to make insurance more affordable as premiums skyrocket on the federal Obamacare exchange, state officials explained.
Blue Cross of Idaho recently announced that it would begin selling non-ACA plans, five in total.
“The current marketplace is not affordable for middle-class families,” Charlene Maher, CEO of Blue Cross of Idaho, said in a statement. “Our new state-based plans are a response to Governor Otter’s executive order, which begins to solve the issues that have kept middle-class Idahoans from buying health insurance. Our Freedom Blue plans bring more choices and lower prices to consumers.”
The plans will charge significantly more for those with pre-existing conditions and will also have an annual limit on coverage and won’t cover maternity care.
Azar only took his post in January, having previously served as a high-profile executive in the pharmaceutical industry.