A Busy Week in Health Policy

While we here at CHIRblog have certainly seen some busy weeks for Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation, we had not expected this week to be so filled with new federal guidance and key events on exchange development and other insurance reform issues. Since we’re having trouble keeping up (and it’s only Wednesday!), we wanted to share our guide on what is happening and has already happened this week.

New Regulations, Guidance, and an Amended Streamlined Application 

  • On Monday, the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight posted a set of frequently asked questions on insurance reform topics such as annual limit waivers, coverage for individuals participating in approved clinical trials, and transparency reporting. (For more, check out this post.)
  • Also on Monday, federal officials announced an extension of the timeline for insurers to file their applications to offer qualified health plans on federally facilitated exchanges. The initial deadline was April 30, 2013 but – in response to requests from insurers – officials granted a three-day extension to allow filings to be submitted by 8:00 PM EST on Friday, May 3.
  • On Tuesday, the Treasury Department released a proposed rule on the minimum required value of employer-sponsored coverage and other rules regarding premium tax credits available on the exchanges.
  • Also on Tuesday, federal officials released three new streamlined health insurance applications to replace the original (and much-maligned) original application. In response to criticism about the length and complexity of the original application, officials revised the forms using consumer testing to simplify and speed up application time. The three applications are individual short form, family, and individual without family assistance.
  • Today, federal officials released additional guidance on the role of agents, brokers, and web-brokers in the exchange and address issues such as how agents and brokers will register with the exchange, how to navigate between an insurer’s website and the exchange, and whether state-based exchanges can establish a commission schedule for agents and brokers, among other questions.

Big Events for the NAIC and Exchanges, Among Others

  • Beginning on Tuesday, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ research arm – the Center for Insurance Policy and Research (CIPR) – begins its latest symposium on Health Care Reform – Tools for Oversight and Assistance in the New Marketplace. At the two-day event, state and federal officials will discuss SERFF submission and validation tools, plan management, accreditation and quality, rate shock, consumer outreach and assistance, enforcement, producers and navigators, and long-term cost containment.
  • Beginning today, a wide variety of stakeholders – including federal and state officials, academics, and other policymakers – will be participating in the three-day Health Insurance Exchange Summit in Washington DC. Be sure to check out CHIR’s own Kevin Lucia and Sarah Dash discussing adverse selection against exchanges and Sabrina Corlette discussing quality improvement and quality rating for consumers!
  • Also today, the Atlantic holds a health care forum with panels on new technologies in health care, new models for health insurance, patient choices, mental health, and health IT, among other topics. The one-day forum’s agenda will feature Marilyn Tannever as the keynote speaker for a discussion on changes to Medicare and Medicaid for the next decade.
  • Other events include the American Hospital Association’s annual meeting in Washington DC which ends today and yesterday’s hearing in North Carolina by the House Education and the Workforce Committee on challenges of ACA implementation.

Other News of Note

  • On Friday, The Commonwealth Fund released a comprehensive report, Insuring the Future: Current Trends in Health Coverage and the Effects of Implementing the Affordable Care Act. Lead author Sara Collins and colleagues found that an estimated 84 million people were uninsured or underinsured in 2012 and that millions of U.S. adults are continuing to struggle to pay medical bills and are avoiding timely health care for financial reasons. For even more, check out The Commonwealth Fund Blog post on the report.
  • On Tuesday, President Barack Obama’s press conference featured a healthy dose of commentary on the ACA. While admitting there will be some “glitches and bumps” along the way to 2014, he emphasized that the ACA’s most significant changes will affect a small percentage of Americans and that political opposition to the ACA has posed challenges for successful implementation.
  • Also on Tuesday, the Kaiser Family Foundation released its most recent poll which continues to show that nearly half of Americans (42 percent) are unaware that the ACA is the law of the land and do not have enough information to understand how the law will affect their family (particularly among the uninsured and those in low-income households). For more on the poll results, check this out.

For more news and events on ACA implementation, be sure to keep up with CHIRblog!

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