PPACA Insurer Reporting Rule/QHSs Rule

HHS issued a proposed rule under which the three largest small group health insurance plans in each state would have to report information “to collect sufficient information on potential benchmark plans’ benefits to enable plans seeking to offer coverage in the individual or small group markets in 2014” to know what benefits will be included in the essential health benefits (EHB) benchmark.  Also HHS proposed the first of a two-phased means of accrediting entities to implement standards for “qualified health plans” (QHPs) that will be sold in health insurance exchanges beginning in 2014.  Comments are due within 30 days.

IRS Delays MLR Date

The IRS issued Notice 2012-37 to extend previous interim guidance and transition relief for health insurers regarding implementation of the PPACA minimum loss ratio rule.  The relief extends through the first taxable year beginning after the end of this year.  Comments are due by September 10th.

Hearings on PPACA Effects on Hiring

The House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions held a hearing last week to gather information on how small businesses might react to the various provisions of the health reform law and efforts to reduce health care costs.  Several business witnesses testified that the law is likely to force them to reduce benefits or otherwise accept the increase in business health plan costs which would stymie their hiring of new employees.  Others testified that the employer mandate and state-based health insurance exchanges mandated by the PPACA will help expand coverage and lower costs in larger insurance pools.  Another witness testified that the PPACA 60% minimum actuarial value plan requirement and related IRS guidance will make it harder for employers to adopt high-deductible health plans such as health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements.

Medical Home DEMO Expansion Possible

CMS provided notice that the agency is seeking information on the regulatory burden associated with the Multi-payer Advanced Primary Care Practice (MAPCP) Demonstration project in an effort to determine whether the demo should be expanded under Medicare.

CMS Initiative to Reduce Nursing Home Drug Use

CMS announced a new “Partnership to Improve Dementia Care” to improve the proper use of antipsychotic medication for nursing home residents and reduce the use of such drugs in nursing homes by 15% by year-end.  The partnership includes the federal government, states, nursing homes and advocacy groups.  The partnership may be expanded to other providers, including hospitals, in the future.

Recently Introduced Health Legislation

H.R. 5858 (HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS), to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to improve health savings accounts, and for other purposes; HERGER; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, May 29.

H.R. 5866 (MEDICAL DEVICES), to enhance Food and Drug Administration oversight of medical device recalls, to provide for the conditional clearance of certain medical devices, and for other purposes; BRALEY of Iowa; to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, May 30. 

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