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March 2011

Advocates worry adults in HUSKY could lose out under health reform

From: CTMirror.com

March 30, 2011

The federal health reform law is meant to expand health insurance coverage, but some advocates worry that it could inadvertently leave some low-income adults in Connecticut worse off.

They want the state to take action now to ensure that doesn’t happen, but that idea has critics, including, for now, the Malloy administration.

Beginning in 2014, states will be required to provide Medicaid coverage to adults earning up to 133 percent of the poverty level. Those just above the Medicaid income threshold will receive federal tax credits to buy insurance through the exchange, a marketplace that will be created for purchasing coverage.

Another state wants healthcare reform waiver

From: The Hill

By Jason Millman

North Dakota has joined a handful of states in asking the Obama administration for relief from a provision of the landmark healthcare law enacted almost a year ago.

The state’s insurance commissioner late Friday filed for a temporary waiver from a new healthcare reform regulation that limits the amount insurers can spend on overhead.

The so-called “medical loss ratio” rule requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent (85 percent in the large group market) of premium dollars on care or provide a rebate to customers for the difference.

Fla. seeks MLR waiver; hospitals struggle

From: News-Medical.net

CQ HealthBeat: Florida Petitions HHS For Medical Payout Rule Exception
Florida is the fifth state — and by far the most populous — to file a petition asking for an adjustment to federal medical loss ratio rules for individual health insurance, saying that there is a “reasonable likelihood” that the new rules would disrupt the state’s insurance market. Delaying the rule until full implementation of the health care law in 2014 “will allow insurers to prepare for a smooth glide to the new realities of 2014 rather than falling off a cliff and hobbling there on crutches,” says a petition filed by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Norman, 3/14).

Do Health Insurers Deserve the Latest Public Hit?

by Dan Diamond, California Healthline Contributing Editor

The federal health reform law arguably wouldn’t have passed Congress if not for health insurers — a dubious and accidental achievement, in the eyes of many payers.

Anthem Blue Cross’ early 2010 decision to hike rates by as much as 39% provided the political cover for some House Democrats to back the reform bill, which at the time was idling in Congress. Seizing the moment, the legislation’s supporters bashed insurers’ behavior and argued that reforms would slow premium hikes while ending the industry’s worst practices, like rescinding coverage from sick patients.

New federal grants help states monitor insurance premiums

From: The St. Louis American

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a second round of grants totaling nearly $200 million to help states develop programs that will make health insurance premiums more transparent. The new funds would also empower states to stop unreasonable premium increases. 

Last August the first funding round awarded $46 million to help 45 states and the District of Columbia crack down on unreasonable premium hikes. New rules proposed in December 2010 require insurance companies to publicly justify unreasonable premium rate increases.