HealthCheck, February 2018

Academy activities, legislative/regulatory updates, and more.

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February 14, 2018

Academy Activities

The Individual and Small Group Markets Committee sent comments Feb. 9 to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) after members of the committee met with representatives of the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration regarding how to model the impact of association health plans.

The Joint P&C/Health Bond Factors Analysis Work Group presented a discussion draft on Feb. 5 on P/C and health bond factors to the NAIC’s Joint Health RBC and P/C RBC Drafting Group.

The Individual and Small Group Markets Committee submitted a comment letter on Jan. 25 in response to a request by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for information on promoting health care choice and competition.

Members of the Retiree Benefits Subcommittee held a teleconference with the U.S. Government Accountability Office on a review of postal retiree health benefits and key issues to consider regarding their financial condition.

Legislative/Judicial/Regulatory Updates

check markThe U.S. Congress on Feb. 9 passed a bill—and the president signed it into law—to, among other things, fund the federal government through March 23. The legislation includes a number of additional provisions affecting health care spending and programs, including the CHRONIC Care Act; an additional four-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) on top of the six-year CHIP extension passed in January; a provision to close the Medicare Part D coverage gap; a repeal of the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board; and a two-year extension of federal funding for community health centers. Read the Academy alert.

check markCongress passed a short-term continuing resolution on Jan. 22 that delayed three health care taxes established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—the medical device tax, the excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health care plans, and the annual fee on health insurance providers. Read the Academy alert.

check markThe Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Feb. 1 approved a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver request by Indiana that includes work requirements as a condition of Medicaid eligibility.

check markNew York and Minnesota filed a lawsuit on Jan. 26 challenging a decision by HHS to end federal payments for the basic health programs (BHPs) established by the ACA. Under BHPs, states could use federal funds to contract directly with health insurers in order to establish affordable plans for low-income residents, in lieu of offering qualified health plans.

check markThe Idaho Department of Insurance issued a bulletin on Jan. 24 stating that it would begin allowing insurers in the state to sell “state-based” plans that will not be required to meet the requirements established by the ACA.

check markVoters in Oregon approved a ballot measure on Jan. 23 that provides funding for the state’s Medicaid program through a 0.7 percent tax on large hospitals and a 1.5 percent tax on some health insurance plans.

check markThe U.S. Senate confirmed Alex Azar as secretary of HHS on Jan. 24, and Azar was sworn in on Jan. 29.

check markCMS sent a letter to state Medicaid directors on Jan. 11 announcing a new policy to allow states to include work requirements in their Medicaid programs for working-age adults who are not eligible on the basis of a disability or pregnancy. The letter follows Section 1115 Medicaid waiver requests recently submitted by 10 states that include provisions for work requirements. CMS approved a waiver request on Jan. 12 from Kentucky that included work requirements. Read the Academy alert.

Life and Health Valuation Law Manual Now Available

Order your copy of the 2018 Life and Health Valuation Law Manual. Available in online and CD-ROM versions, the manual is designed to help appointed actuaries know the requirements of the NAIC model Standard Valuation Law and the Model Actuarial Opinion and Memorandum Regulation.

In the News/Media Activities

  • A Vox story fact-checking the president’s comments about the individual mandate during the State of the Union speech cited the Individual and Small Group Markets Committee and the Medicaid Subcommittee’s comment letter to U.S. House of Representatives leadership on H.R. 1628, The American Health Care Act.

  • A blog post from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities cited the Health Practice Council’s (HPC) policy paper on risk pooling and how it works in the individual health insurance market.

  • A Health Affairs Blog post on the Labor Department’s proposed AHP rule cited the Individual and Small Group Markets Committee’s March 2017 letter to Congress on AHPs. Several media outlets, including National Law Review, Lexology, and JD Supra, cited the committee’s February 2017 issue brief on AHPs.

  • HealthPayer Intelligence reported on an Academy news release that offered public policymakers actuarial expertise on health insurance and other issues ahead of January’s State of the Union speech, which was President Trump’s first.

  • HealthPayer Intelligence also published a story on a new U.S. Government Accountability Office report on Medicare’s cost-sharing design, citing the Academy’s issue brief, Revising Medicare’s Fee-For-Service Benefit Structure.

  • The Washington Examiner cited the HPC’s Dec. 12 letter to Congress providing comments on the consequences of the elimination of the ACA’s individual mandate. A National Journal subscriber-only report on congressional measures to stabilize the health insurance market also cited the Academy’s letter.

  • An opinion piece in the New Jersey Spotlight cited the Academy’s issue brief, Drivers of 2016 Health Insurance Premium Changes.