Posted on July 4, 2014 | Comments Off
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued several rules concerning Medicare payments for 2015. First, CMS released the 2015 physician fee schedule. Pursuant to the “doc fix” legislation recently passed, this proposal holds physician payments for the first quarter of next year. The rule also bolsters the Physician Payment Sunshine Act by requiring providers to report payments received from speaking at continuous education events. Additionally, the proposal revises the quality scoring methodology so that accountable care organizations (ACOs) are better able to exemplify the improvements they make in quality measures. The number of metrics will increase from 33 to 37.
Yesterday, CMS also updated the payment scheme for outpatient services by 2.1% for 2015. Biologics and non-pass-through drugs are still expected to be paid at average sales price plus 6%. Payments are anticipated to increase by $5.2 billion compared to 2014.
Posted on July 1, 2014 | Comments Off
The US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released two new reports concerning enrollment into qualified health plans (QHP) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The first report found that the vast majority of application inconsistencies were not resolved within the first three months of the open enrollment period. According to the report, many of the inconsistencies dealt with reported income and citizenship status, and states are at various points in rectifying these application data inconsistencies.
Another report investigated whether or not federally-facilitated Marketplaces (FFM) and two state-based Marketplaces (SBM) were able to verify enrollment eligibility. During the same three month window, OIG found that the FFM was not able to verify social security numbers. For the SBM states, California and Connecticut, the report found that both states also had some ineffective controls in regards to confirming various aspects of QHP enrollment.
Posted on June 26, 2014 | Comments Off
A new proposed rule issued today by the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) discussed annual eligibility redetermination under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and several other enrollment standards for ACA Marketplace. CCIIO stated that nearly all of those currently enrolled in an ACA Marketplace plan will be re-enrolled unless they choose a new plan in the next open enrollment period or the plan in which they are currently enrolled is terminated. The rule proposes three methods for ACA Marketplaces to conduct annual redeterminations for enrollment. The rule also proposes standards to redetermine eligibility within a plan year and when an individual’s plan in the ACA Marketplace is not available for re-enrollment for the next plan year.
Additional guidance includes:
- Guidance on Annual Redeterminations for Coverage for 2015
- Draft Standard Notices When Discontinuing or Renewing a Product in the Small Group or Individual Market
- Instructions for Draft Standard Notices for Product Discontinuation and Renewal
Posted on June 26, 2014 | Comments Off
A new study published in Health Affairs found that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should coincide with the tax filing season. The researchers argued that consumers are more likely to make better decisions with their health coverage when taxes are on their minds, not the stresses associated with holiday spending. Currently, ACA open enrollment for 2015 is scheduled for November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015.
Another study from the Urban Institute indicates that Medicaid expansion was associated with a reduction in the number of uninsured individuals as of March 2014. The study, which relied upon data from Urban’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey, found that states expanding Medicaid saw a drop in the uninsurance rate by 4%, whereas states that did not expand Medicaid saw a 1.4% reduction. Unlike the ACA open enrollment period, individuals eligible for Medicaid can enroll in the program at any point in a year.
Posted on June 20, 2014 | Comments Off
Today, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) released a final rule concerning the 90-day waiting period limitation. The final rule states that group health insurance plans cannot apply a waiting period that exceeds 90 days after the employee has been approved for coverage. The rule further states that small group plan orientation periods, the time it takes from hire to when the plan deems the employee is eligible for coverage, cannot exceed one month.
Posted on June 20, 2014 | Comments Off
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at Penn released a brief on premium proposals and rate review under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The brief, Deciphering the Data: Health Insurance Rates and Rate Review, discusses the economic, political, and regulatory factors that contribute to rate determinations. Additionaly, the brief discusses how states with prior approval for rate review authority increased their capacity and scope to coincide with requirements under the ACA.
Posted on June 19, 2014 | Comments Off
A new survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) discusses the experience of individuals that were enrolled in the individual health insurance market prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and then switched into the ACA health insurance Marketplace. The survey found that 46% of these individuals have lower premiums after switching to the ACA Marketplace, while 39% have higher premiums. Additionally, about 50% of these “plan switchers” received cancellation notices from their insurance issuers because their plans were deemed non-compliant with the ACA prior to the issuance of the transitional policy.
The survey also indicated that affordability is still an issue for individuals enrolled in ACA plans, as 6 in 10 of those surveyed fear their plans may become unaffordable in the future.
Posted on June 18, 2014 | Comments Off
A new report by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) describes how premiums vary among the 36 states operating federally-facilitated Marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The report, released by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) within HHS, found the average premium payment by an individual receiving subsidies to be $82, with the subsidized average for the silver plan metal tier being $69. Average subsidized premiums ranged from $23/month in Mississippi to $148/month in New Jersey. The report does not capture the corresponding data for the state-based Marketplaces.
Posted on June 13, 2014 | Comments Off
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a rule to change the payment adjustment for low-volume hospitals and Medicare-dependent hospitals. The changes would be issued under the hospital inpatient prospective payment systems (IPPS) for the second half of fiscal-year 2014. According to the rule, a hospital is considered low-volume if it is more than 15 miles from another hospital and has less than 1600 discharges of individuals entitled to or enrolled in Medicare Part A.
Posted on June 12, 2014 | Comments Off
A new FAQ released by the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) addresses questions insurance issuers may have concerning Essential Community Providers (ECPs). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires issuers to contract with a sufficient number of ECPs, or providers that generally treat low-income and medically underserved patients. The FAQ describes specifics of the ECP requirements, how issuers can access the non-exhaustive ECP list, and how ECPs can actively pursue inclusion in insurance planes. A similar FAQ addressing the same ECP issues was released in May of 2013.