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Tag Archive | "HHS"

HHS Semiannual Regulatory Agenda

The Department of Health and Human Services released its semiannual regulatory agenda, which details the rulemaking actions currently underway.

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HHS Regulations on Grandfathered Health Plans

The Department of Health and Human Services released the Interim Final Rules for Relating to Status as a Grandfathered Health Plan under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Regulations Released Regarding Dependent Coverage of Children to Age 26

The IRS, Department of Treasury, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor, and Department of Health and Human Services released interim final rules for group health plans and health insurance issuers relating to dependent coverage of children to age 26. 

The interim final rules are effective 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register (May 13, 2010).  Comments on the rules are due 90 days from the date of publication.

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HHS Outlines Regulatory Review

Earlier this year, President Obama issued an Executive Order directing Department and Agency heads to submit a plan for retrospective review of regulations that may be obsolete or burdensome to businesses. Federal Departments submitted preliminary plans in the spring and just this week issued their final plans.

HHS’s plan notes that the goal of the retrospective review of the regulations is to improve patient care and outcomes and reduce system costs by removing obsolete or burdensome requirements.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will publish a rule in September related to this regulatory review and estimates that the changes outlined in the plan will result in savings of $600 million annually and $3 billion over five years.

HHS plans to revisit regulations a number of issues including the following:

  • Use of telemedicine to increase access to improve the ability of rural and critical access hospitals to provide care more broadly and reduce provider burden by removing credentialing requirements;
  • Increase use of electronic reports and submissions at the FDA and the Administration for Children and Families;
  • Align reporting for electronic prescribing requirements and the EHR incentive program in Medicare;
  • Improve pre-market review for medical devices;
  • Reduce certain burdens imposed by the FDA’s medical device regulations;
  • Continue to review the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices regulations for foods and drugs and establish preventive controls for food facilities, as well as accommodate advances in technology relating to pharmaceuticals;
  • Revise and update labeling regulations for food and drugs at the FDA;
  • Develop a CMS work plan to better align Medicare and Medicaid; and
  • Review quality reporting requirements.

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HHS and IRS Issue Exchange Regulations

On August 12, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of the Treasury proposed regulations relating to the establishment of the State-based Affordable Insurance Exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Proposed Rule on Exchange Functions seeks to implement certain functions of the Exchanges established in the ACA.  The Affordable Care Act requires that health plans offered through the Exchange be certified as Qualified Health Plans (QHPs). HHS proposes that the Exchange perform eligibility determinations for enrollment in a Qualified Health Plan (QHP). HHS sets forth standards for eligibility, eligibility determination process, and applicant information verification process.  Additionally, the Department tasks the Exchange with determining eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and subsequently notifying the State Medicaid or CHIP agency with the applicant’s information.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States Department of the Treasury released a Proposed Rule, entitled “Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit,” to implement Section 1402 of the ACA. Section 1402 the ACA amended the Internal Revenue Code to allow a refundable premium tax credit intended to help make health insurance coverage more affordable by reducing out-of-pocket premium costs. The IRS has scheduled a public hearing for November 17, 2011, which will be held at the Internal Revenue Building in Washington, D.C.

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HHS Releases Draft Regulations to Implement CO-OP Program

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued draft regulations that would implement the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program.  The program would provide loans to foster the creation of consumer-governed, private, nonprofit health insurance issuers to offer qualified health plans in the state health insurance exchanges. The purpose of this program is to create a new CO-OP in every state in order to expand the number of health plans available in the exchanges with a focus on integrated care and greater plan accountability.

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HHS Releases Draft Regulations on Exchanges

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released draft regulations on the health insurance exchanges authorized by the Affordable Care Act:

  • Requirements To Implement American Health Benefit Exchanges and Other Provisions of the Affordable Care Act (CMS-9989-P)
  • State Requirements for Exchange–Reinsurance and Risk Adjustments (CMS-9975-P)

Fact sheets are available online.

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HHS Reorganization

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced a reorganization of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in order to enhance efficiencies including health information technology, contracting and staff support. The Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (OCIIO) will be moved to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the charge of current Deputy Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. OCIIO Director Jay Angoff will move to the office of the Secretary, advising on health reform implementation issues. The move could be considered an effort to shield OCIIO from defunding efforts by Congressional Republicans, but the Administration touts improved coordination between important health reform elements including interaction between the Medicaid and the exchanges.

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Capital Thinking Podcast

On June 24, the House passed the “Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act of 2010,” which will increase Medicare reimbursement to physicians by 2.2 percent through November 30, 2010.  President Obama signed the legislation into law on June 25.  Amy Hall, Director of the Office of Legislation at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a notice to Hill staff explaining that Medicare physician “claims containing June 2010 dates of services which have been paid at the negative update rates will be reprocessed as soon as possible.”  The notification indicated that contractors have been instructed to stop processing claims with the 21 percent cut and to hold claims for services provided in June until the 2.2 percent update is loaded into the claims processing systems.

After eight weeks of consideration of various versions of the “American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010” (H.R. 4213) that would extend the Medicaid FMAP funding increase, COBRA insurance, and unemployment benefits, the Senate continues to be in a holding pattern.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid most recently failed to get 60 Senators to support cloture on June 24.  Senator Ben Nelson voted with Republicans to block the measure.   The majority has not signaled whether it will try to pass another version this week, but it is the last week Congress is in session before the week-long July 4th recess.

HHS has two major deadlines mandated by the health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, this week – the Department must establish high-risk pools and launch a health insurance web portal by July 1.  Thirty-one states have agreed to run their own high-risk pools, while 20 states will have pools administered by the federal government.

This week the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing on H.R.5504, the “Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act.”  The bipartisan bill aims to improve the meals children eat both in and out of schools, as well as support community efforts to reduce childhood hunger.  Additionally, the legislation establishes nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools.  The Senate Agriculture Committee has already marked-up its version of a child nutrition reauthorization bill, which awaits floor time.

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