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Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit Upholds Trump's STLDI Expansion

Analysis  |  By Jack O'Brien  
   July 17, 2020

Last year, a federal judge sided with the administration on a final rule expanding access to short-term limited-duration insurance.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the Trump administration's expansion of short-term limited-duration insurance (STLDI) in a ruling Friday morning.

In 2018, the Trump administration introduced STLDI and association health plans (AHP) as alternatives to coverage options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Last July, a federal judge sided with the administration on the final rule expanding access to STLDI.

In the case of ACAP v. Treasury, the court ruled 2-1 that the administration's rulemaking on STLDI is "neither contrary to law nor arbitrary and capricious."

In delivering the majority opinion, Judge Thomas B. Griffith, an appointee of President George W. Bush, wrote that the Trump administration "exercised the policymaking authority" granted to it and therefore the STLDI rule remains in place.

Related: Plaintiffs Vow to Appeal Short-Term Health Plans Decision

The plaintiffs expressed disappointment in the ruling but remain confident the full District of Columbia Circuit will agree with their arguments.

Margaret A. Murray, CEO of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP), released a statement Friday afternoon calling AHPs "junk insurance" and an "inferior and hazardous substitute for comprehensive coverage." 

"The court's decision today protects these plans and their harmful practices, placing patients, families, and providers at increased risk amidst a global health emergency," Murray said. "So long as junk insurance plans are permitted to compete directly with comprehensive, Affordable Care Act-compliant insurance plans, the health care protections of the ACA—and the consumers who rely on them— are in jeopardy. This erroneous decision comes just days after new evidence emerged that junk plans are being successfully and aggressively marketed to consumers seeking ACA-compliant plans, just as we allege."

Related: Association Insurance Pushes On Despite Court Ruling

Jack O'Brien is the Content Team Lead and Finance Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

Photo credit: Washington, D.C./USA-April 17, 2019: The E. Barrett Prettyman building, home to the U.S. Appellate Court for the District of Columbia Circuit, on Judiciary Square. / Editorial credit: Daniel J. Macy /

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