BISMARCK, N.D. – Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread issued the following statement today in response to President Donald Trump’s remarks on the future of health care reform in the United States during his address to Congress on Tuesday night. In his address, President Trump detailed the guiding principles of his plan to reform the Affordable Care Act (ACA) focusing on:
- Ensuring that young Americans are able to continue to remain on the insurance policies held by their parents until age 26, that those with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage and that those currently with coverage don’t get dropped by their insurance company during the transition following the reform of the ACA.
- Giving state regulators the resources and flexibility they need to make sure all Americans have the opportunity to purchase affordable coverage.
- Implementing strong legislation that lowers the cost of prescription drugs and protects patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that ultimately drive up the price of insurance.
“The guiding principles that President Trump outlined during his address were well-balanced and mostly paralleled the recommendations I made for reform in a letter to Congress this past January,” Godfread said. “The North Dakota Insurance Department strongly agrees with the President’s support of flexibility for the states in that returning the authority for health insurance back to where it belongs - closer to the people - will allow for the states to regain their rightful role as the champions of democracy.”
President Trump’s guiding principles also included an endorsement for interstate health insurance sales stating that this practice would bring down the cost of insurance and provide for better health care. However, the Department has stalwartly opposed interstate insurance sales and has made that opposition known, most recently at the health care roundtable hosted by Congressman Kevin Cramer on Feb. 22. The President and others have suggested that allowing interstate sales of health insurance policies would make coverage more affordable and available. In reality, this option already exists. States have the ability to allow insurance products approved by other states to be sold in their states, or to enter into compacts with other states to further facilitate cross-border sales. Many states have specifically allowed for these types of agreements, but not one insurance company has taken advantage of it. This well highlights the geographically-specific nature of health insurance and shows, once again, that the state-based health insurance markets work and one-size-fits-all regulation does not.
“Buying a health insurance plan from California or New York isn't going to solve any problems, and would leave consumers in North Dakota with little recourse if they were treated unfairly by an insurance company based in another state or in cases of fraud, as I would not have the authority to regulate health insurance plans issued in another state. My number one charge is to protect the North Dakota consumer. Mandating interstate sales of health insurance undermines my ability to do that and moves us closer to federal regulation of insurance, which would be disastrous for a rural state like North Dakota.”
“My overarching interest is in providing North Dakota consumers with competition and choice, which empowers them to better health and financial stability. As the President and members of Congress work toward reforming the Affordable Care Act, it is the recommendation of the Department that they focus on affordability and sustainability of health insurance for our citizens, two crucial areas where the ACA completely missed the mark. I am encouraged by the fact that President Trump and Congress appear to be working together to create a reasonable solution to the challenges presented by the ACA, which didn’t happen when the ACA was rolled out. I look forward to working with the other leaders of our state, our Congressional delegation and the current administration to offer North Dakota’s voice as we move toward a health care system that is affordable and sustainable,” Godfread said.