Health Law Implementation Largely Untouched By Automatic Spending Cuts

The Associated Press reports that only a small fraction of the overhaul's funding is subject to the sequester's cuts. Meanwhile, the Obama administration indicates that insurers will have to report rate increases no matter how small and offers rules to clarify other provisions.

The Associated Press: Health Care Overhaul Rolls On Despite Budget Havoc
But President Barack Obama's health care law - a program Republicans have spent the last three years trying to kill - will roll out on time, the administration says. Only a small fraction of the $1.6 trillion the Affordable Care Act spends to cover the uninsured over the next decade is subject to the so-called sequester. ... Some independent experts see irony in the situation. Others say the administration must be bluffing, and surely the cuts will slow the health law in some way. "It's so strange that the one thing Republicans were so ticked off at was the ACA, and now, when it comes time for reductions in spending, for all practical purposes the ACA gets a pass," said Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and formerly a long-serving GOP budget aide in Congress (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/1).

The New York Times: Obama Asks Health Plans To Report Rising Rates
The Obama administration says it will require health insurance companies to report all price increases, no matter how small, to the federal government so officials can monitor the impact of the new health care law and insurers' compliance with it (Pear, 3/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Clarifies Part Of Health Law
The Obama administration on Friday released new rules aimed at smoothing the rollout of a piece of the 2010 federal health-care law designed to give Americans more insurance options. Federal officials said insurers that get a contract to offer a so-called multistate plan will have to adhere to most of the insurance laws in each state, but in some cases they would be allowed to use a federally approved package of benefits rather than replicating ones set for each state (Radnofsky and Mathews, 3/1).

CQ HealthBeat: CMS Issues Rules To Tame Premium Hikes, Launch SHOP Exchanges, Set Premium Subsidies
With the deadline bearing down on insurers for filing rate applications to sell coverage next year under the health care law, federal officials on Friday announced a series of regulations plans will need to help them set their prices and meet other requirements for offering coverage. The regulations are part of a final rule and interim final rule dryly titled "notice of benefit and payment parameters" (Reichard, 3/1).

CQ HealthBeat: CMS Fine-Tunes A 'Single, Streamlined Application' Crucial To Health Law Success
In just seven months, millions of Americans are expected to start filling out what's supposed to be an easy-to-understand application for health insurance coverage under the health care law. Public comments on a prototype exchange application that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed were due Thursday. And there are plenty of suggestions for improvement (Norman, 3/1).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Hard Time Understanding Health Reform Law? Try Figuring It Out In Tagalog, Hmong Or Vietnamese
Set on a gritty corner of Oakland's International Boulevard, the nonprofit Street Level Health Project offers free checkups to patients who speak a total of 22 languages, from recent Mongolian immigrants seeking a doctor to Burmese refugees in need of a basic dental exam. It also provides a window into one of the challenges for state officials who are trying to implement the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's sweeping health care overhaul (3/4).

Politico: Loophole For Mental Health Care
Even if you get insurance under the new health care law, that's no guarantee you'll be able to pay your shrink. With mental health on the front burner since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, Democrats have pointed out that the Affordable Care Act expands access to mental health care in several ways. It will get coverage for more people, either through private plans or Medicaid — and the benefits will have to include mental health. A number of other proposals are circulating on Capitol Hill to address gaps in behavioral health (Cunningham, 3/4).

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