Federal Government May Need To Enforce Health Law In Some States

Politico reports that insurance officials in at least four states won't implement insurance market changes that are part of the law, leaving that task to federal officials. Meanwhile, the Obama administration offers new rules and statistics related to implementation.

Politico: Feds Will Need To Enforce ACA Reforms In 4 States
At least four states won't enforce new sweeping insurance market reforms rolling out next year with the health law — leaving federal health officials in Washington to pick up the slack, yet another wrinkle in Obamacare implementation. Insurance regulation is a huge responsibility that’s been closely guarded by the states. That’s why the Obama administration and those closely watching the rollout of Obamacare believe that even states that have sworn off the law’s coverage expansions will still enforce its new measures — including new benefit mandates, cost-sharing guidelines and rules on how insurers rate customers — to retain control over their health insurance markets (Millman, 3/19).

The Associated Press: Senate Health Committee Wants Feds To Set Rates For Insurers
A [Florida] Senate health committee recommended Monday that the state suspend the Office of Insurance Regulation's power to set rates for insurers under the Affordable Care Act and instead let the federal government handle that responsibility. With federal officials issuing new regulations weekly, lawmakers decided it would be best for those officials to oversee that approval process for the next year or two, especially because there likely will be large rate increases (Kennedy, 3/18).

The Hill: New Regulations Limit Waiting Periods For Employer Health Plans
Employers can't make workers wait more than 90 days to use their healthcare coverage, the Obama administration said in new regulations Monday. The proposed rules implement part of the Affordable Care Act that prohibit waiting periods longer than 90 days before health coverage kicks in (Baker,3/18).

Modern Healthcare: 71 Million Received Free Preventive Care Under ACA: HHS
The Obama administration says about 71 million privately insured Americans received coverage for at least one free preventive healthcare service as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2011 and 2012. HHS' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation arrived at that conclusion using data from a Kaiser Family Foundation survey and U.S. Census Bureau data. The Kaiser survey estimated that 41% of all workers had employer-backed insurance that expanded coverage as a result of the ACA. That figure, when applied to Census Bureau data showing that 173 million Americans have such coverage, results in the estimate of 71 million people receiving the free services (Barr, 3/18).

Also in the news, Medpage Today reports on the impact of the health law on HIV coverage -

Medpage Today: ACA: HIV Coverage Still Unclear
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) goes a long way to protect gays and lesbians against discrimination, but much of the law's impact on them -- as well as on anyone living with HIV -- remains to be seen, advocates [in Washington] said Monday. The recently finalized Essential Health Benefits rules, which lay out the minimum coverage requirements for health plans, prevent insurers from discriminating based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and preexisting health conditions including HIV, noted Kellan Baker, associate director for LGBT [lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people] research and communications at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a left-leaning advocacy group. The landmark 2010 health law also ends the lifetime cap on health insurance benefits and extends coverage to those with preexisting conditions -- both important provisions for those living with HIV because the cost of care is so high, Baker said at an event sponsored by the center (Pittman, 3/18).

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