Still Waiting For The Puff Of Smoke
This morning’s Supreme Court session passed without mention of health care reform. The Court is next scheduled to release opinions this Thursday, June 21, and next Monday, June 25.
Reform Law Not Gaining Fans
The latest poll by The New York Times and CBS News shows 41 percent of Americans favor overturning the entire federal health care reform law. An additional 27 percent favor striking the individual mandate.
No Overdue Fines?
HHS has missed nearly half of its legal deadlines while implementing the federal healthcare reform law, according to a report released by the American Action Forum. Faced with 42 statutory deadlines since Obamacare was signed into law in 2010, the agency has missed or ignored 20 of them.
Administration Ally Changes Course On Contraceptive Mandate
The Catholic Health Association (CHA) has withdrawn its support for a compromise offered by the Administration in conjunction with the contraception mandate imposed on employers. Initially supportive of the compromise which placed compliance with the requirement on the shoulders of insurance plans instead of religiously-affiliated employers, CHA announced it finds the exemption defining religious employer to be too narrow and believes the mandate raises “serious constitutional questions.”
MedPAC Report Advocates Increased Cost Sharing For Seniors
Medicare beneficiaries who purchase supplemental insurance plans should pay a surcharge of up to 20 percent according to the June report to Congress issued last week by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). Convinced that the comfort level provided to seniors by first-dollar coverage in Medicare Supplement plans is responsible for driving up costs in the program, MedPAC has traditionally advocated for the removal of those features from the most popular Supplement plans. The report also recommended increased care coordination efforts in traditional Medicare.
HEALTH CARE REFORM in the STATES
HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGES
Not content to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision on the federal health care reform law, several states have continued planning for the exchanges which might or might not survive the Court’s actions.
In the last few weeks Arizona‘s Health Insurance Exchange Implementation Work Group met to discuss network adequacy standards and review a report from Mercer Consulting about the state’s proposed essential health benefits benchmark plan.
Nevada‘s SHOP Exchange Advisory Committee has reviewed recommendations for the potential merger of the individual and small group markets, and whether to retain an insurance market outside of the exchange.
One of the more advanced states, in terms of planning and intent is Washington, already discussing application processes for qualified health plans (QHPs), accreditation standards, and premium collection processes.
Meanwhile, the state responsible for the last star on our flag became the first state to formally declare its intent to create a state-based insurance exchange. Hawaii‘s “Hawaii Health Connector” was named in a “declaration letter” sent this month to HHS from Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D). The letter is the first step of a two-part “Exchange Blueprint” which all states need to submit to HHS by November 16.
Christina Urias, the longest serving Director of the Arizona Department of Insurance (ADOI), has announced her resignation effective June 29. A successor has not yet been named.
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has signed mandated benefit bills related to oral chemotherapy parity and autism benefits. Comprehensive rate review legislation died in conference committee during the final days of the session and a federal health care reform-related external review proposal also failed to advance. Consequently, the state’s Department of Insurance maintains its HHS designation as an “ineffective” rate reviewer.