March 8 (UPI) -- The Trump administration Thursday blocked Idaho's plan to get around the Affordable Care Act, but encouraged state lawmakers to try again.
Republican Idaho Gov. Butch Otter announced earlier this year that the state would allow insurance companies to offer minimal healthcare plans that otherwise wouldn't be allowed under the ACA. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that oversees the health insurance marketplace, told Otter that his plan can't continue because current law forbids it.
"We sincerely appreciate your dedication to the people of Idaho and your efforts to address the damage caused by the [ACA]," CMS Administrator Seema Verna said in a letter to Otter. "This administration recognizes and supports the fundamental role states play in regulating insurance. We further recognize that states face unique challenges in repairing the individual health insurance market and we are committed to working with states to provide flexibility to do so. However, the [ACA] remains the law and we have a duty to enforce and uphold the law."
Verna also said she encourages Idaho officials to "continue to engage in dialogue" with her staff to explore other options so that "Idaho may achieve its policy goals with respect to State-based plans."
Although the Trump administration blocked Idaho's attempt to circumvent the ACA for now, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., , the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, warned that the president's goal of fully repealing the healthcare law.
"Make no mistake, however, while this is the right decision, the Administration continues its many efforts to undermine the law and chip away at its protections, including by encouraging Idaho to sell junk plans in another way," he said, according to Politico.