Health Plans Welcome Some HHS Health Law Regs, Gear Up For Changes

Insurers are preparing for new approaches to selling plans directly to consumers and how some state exchanges will operate. They are also girding for additional guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services that could help stabilize the insurance market.

Kaiser Health News: Health Plans Gear Up To Sell Directly To Consumers
All this is happening in anticipation that an estimated 9 million people will buy their own insurance in 2014 -- about 50 percent more than do so now. That's when the law goes into full effect and virtually all Americans will be required to have health insurance. Those not covered through their jobs will be able to buy policies online, through so-called exchanges that will be run by the states or the federal government (Appleby, 12/3).

The Washington Post: Some Health Exchange Plans To Mirror FEHBP
Health care offerings to be available in multiple states through the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchange system would parallel those of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program in many ways, although the two programs would not affect each other directly, under rules to be proposed on Wednesday (Yoder, 12/4).

Politico Pro: Insurers Generally Welcome '3-R' Regs
The regulations HHS has proposed to stabilize premiums during the first three years of the health exchanges were generally welcomed by insurers, who said they would be needed to help calm a potentially volatile market. But the complexity of the so-called 3-Rs programs outlined Friday -- reinsurance, risk-adjustment and risk corridors -- as well as HHS's claim that it won't correct errors in risk adjustment payments made in the first two years, raised some concerns about gaming the system (Norman, 12/3).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: State Insurance Officials Raise Concerns About 'Rate Shock' For Young People
If young adults can't afford health insurance policies available in 2014 under the health care law, state insurance officials are worried they won't buy them. And that could drive up the cost of insurance for the mostly older, sicker people who do purchase it. That's a potential problem even in states like California and Rhode Island, which are moving ahead to carry out the law, state officials told representatives of the Obama administration Friday at a meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (Jaffe, 12/4).

CQ HealthBeat: Conservatives Pressure Christie To Rely On Federal Exchange
The conservative group Americans for Prosperity is running 60-second radio ads pressuring New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to reject a state-passed bill that would allow New Jersey to run its own health care exchange. Christie must decide by Thursday whether he will sign the measure, which passed in October (Adams, 12/3).

California Healthline: How Will Consumers Choose Exchange Coverage?
The Pacific Business Group on Health yesterday released the third and final installment of its comprehensive report on how to ensure that the people joining a health benefit exchange end up with the plan that works best for them. … That's one of the points of yesterday's report, that health officials need to make sure that the choice of a health plan for consumers in the exchange becomes both a simple and well-informed decision. The report, done in three installments, is based on a series of 2,100 interviews overall, conducted in 2012 with low-income participants chosen to mirror the demographic makeup of expected enrollees in the exchange in 2014. Outside of premium cost, one of the most important factors to increase enrollment among participants is to make the process a simple one (Gorn, 12/4).

Meanwhile, on the state level, opponents of the Affordable Care Act pack a Florida hearing -

The Associated Press: 'Obamacare' Foes Vent To Senate Panel
Dozens of Tea Party activists flooded a [Florida] state Senate meeting on the Affordable Care Act on Monday, calling the law a gross overreach by the federal government. The first meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, chaired by Republican Sen. Joe Negron, was a fiery one as lawmakers discussed what will be one of the most critical and contentious issues of the upcoming legislative session (Kennedy, 12/3).

And, an update regarding the Oklahoma challenge to the health law --

Politico Pro: DOJ Asks Court To Dismiss Oklahoma ACA Lawsuit
The Obama administration on Monday asked an Oklahoma court to toss a lawsuit challenging whether Americans can get tax subsidies through federally run health insurance exchanges. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed suit in September, arguing that the Obama administration is violating the letter of the health care reform law by writing rules that allow consumers to get tax subsidies through exchanges that will be fully or partially run by the federal government in 2014. The Justice Department wrote Monday that Oklahoma "seeks to take federal tax credits from its own residents" (Haberkorn, 12/3).

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