Tag: Health and Human Services
HHS releases progress and performance report for HealthCare.gov
Posted by Nikki Hurt on December 2, 2013
Yesterday, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a progress report on the administration’s recent efforts to fix and improve the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) website, healthcare.gov. The website has been plagued with issues and errors since its debut on October 1st. The document, HealthCare.gov: Performance and Progress Report, outlines all of the improvements and changes made to the website over the past two months. Some of these improvements include fixing over 400 bugs and software issues and updating the server so that the site may be able to host 800,000 visitors a day. The report cites management and collaborations issues, as well as inadequate systems and a multitude of technical software bugs, as key causes of the early site malfunction.
106,185 enroll in health plans through ACA during October
Posted by Nikki Hurt on November 13, 2013
Today, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the first set of enrollment statistics for health insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Marketplaces. The report stated that 106,185 individuals signed up for coverage during the first month of open enrollment. About 75% of these individuals enrolled through State-Based Marketplaces. The remainder, about 26,000 people, reside in a state in which the Marketplace is operated by the federal government. While these individuals have completed the enrollment process, they have not necessarily purchased a plan.
Administration issues mental health final rule
Posted by Nikki Hurt on November 8, 2013
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Labor (DoL), and the Department of the Treasury (DoT) released the joint final rule implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Under this law, insurers that offer coverage for mental health services are expected to treat mental health equitably, meaning cost-sharing and limits for mental health services should be comparable to that of physical health services. Several other specific provisions addressed in this rule include:
- Parity for intermediate care offered in residential or outpatient settings and all plan standards (i.e. network adequacy and geographic limits);
- Clarifying transparency expectations for insurers to remain compliant with the law; and
- Eliminating provisions that enabled insurers to make exceptions for parity requirements for certain benefits offered.
The law was passed in 2008, and an interim final rule was issued in January 2010. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also published an FAQ on today’s rule.
HHS posts premium rates for FFM states
Posted by Nikki Hurt on October 2, 2013
In an effort to help consumers circumvent the backlog to access plan information on federally-facilitated Marketplaces (FFM), the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted a list of 17,000 plans and premium rates that consumers may browse to see what options are available in their states. Plans are broken down by metal tier (platinum, gold, silver, and bronze), plan type (HMO, PPO, etc.), and the state and county in which the plan is offered. HHS has provided plan information for health insurance and stand-alone dental plans in the individual and small group markets.
HHS sends letter to Energy and Commerce Majority in response to Navigator inquiry
Posted by Nikki Hurt on September 9, 2013
On August 29th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to 51 Navigator groups requesting answers to various questions on their roles and requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Today, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sent a letter to Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) answering the questions posed by the committee. HHS stated that the timing of the committee’s letter may interfere with the ability of Navigator groups to perform their roles of outreach and education of health insurance options available to consumers through the ACA. Moreover, as the agency that granted and authorized Navigator groups, HHS has the information to answer the questions posed by Chairman Upton’s committee.
Agencies issue another round of ACA FAQ
Posted by Nikki Hurt on September 5, 2013
On September 4th, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury jointly issued the sixteenth installment of their FAQs about implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This particular set addressed employer notice of coverage and the 90-day waiting period limitation before employer-sponsored benefits are required to kick-in. As specifically stated in the FAQ, an employer will be considered to have satisfied the notice of coverage obligation if another entity “provides a timely and complete notice.” The FAQ also stated that employers can refer to the proposed rule issued in March 2013 on compliance expectations for the 90-day waiting period limitation. A final rule will be released before January 2015.
HHS announces Navigator grant recipients
Posted by Nikki Hurt on August 15, 2013
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today the entities receiving grants to serve as Navigators in federally-facilitated and state-partnership Marketplaces. As required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), navigators are individuals and businesses tasked with assisting applicants in their plan selection within the health insurance Marketplaces. HHS stated that $67 million in grants will be dispersed amongst 105 Navigators, which consist of various care providers, schools, community groups, health departments, Planned Parenthood, and other groups.
Section 1557 of the ACA and Non-Discrimination: The HHS Request for Information
Posted by Nikki Hurt on August 12, 2013
Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) establishes a non-discrimination standard that is unprecedented in U.S. civil rights law. This Implementation Brief examines a recent Request for Information (RFI), issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), representing the initial step in implementation of the standard. Although the non-discrimination standard takes effect on the same schedule as other ACA provisions, the RFI signals only the beginning of what might be expected to be a complex regulatory development process.
CMS releases FAQ on income verification
Posted by Nikki Hurt on August 6, 2013
A new set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) clarifies how health insurance Marketplaces will verify incomes of applicants that qualify for premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions. In a previous rule released on July 5, 2013, CMS stated that for 2014 only, Marketplaces may use a statistically significant sample when requesting additional income documentation under scenarios where Marketplace applicant projects an annual household income is that at least 10% below available IRS and SSA data, Equifax data is unavailable, and the individual does not provide a reasonable explanation for the discrepancy between the attestation and available data. In the new FAQ, CMS ultimately determined that for those enrolling in federally-facilitated Marketplaces, they have sufficient resources to request and process additional income documentation such that the sample size is 100%. However, CMS is still allowing state-based Marketplaces to determine their own sample size percentage for this group, as long as it is statistically significant.
OIG report details security risks of data hub
Posted by Nikki Hurt on August 5, 2013
A new report from the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) chronicled observations from the implementation of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data service hub. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), CMS created the data service hub to aggregate, but not store, data from several federal agencies required to make the Marketplaces operate. The report found that if CMS delays any more of the security preparedness components in implementing the Marketplaces, it is likely that CMS will possess “limiting information” on the potential privacy and security risks associated with the data services hub.