A bill that would require Arizona health insurance carriers to provide written claim reports to plan sponsors up to twice a year, upon request, has been favorably amended in the House to make compliance less onerous. Modeled after a Texas law enacted in 2007, the bill originally required the reports to be provided within 30 days of a request. The type of information that can be requested includes aggregate claims and premium by month, the number of employees covered and pending claims.
Republican-sponsored legislation that would permit cross-border sales of individual health insurance remains in play despite strong opposition by the business community and consumer advocates. The bill would require that out-of-state insurers be subject to the jurisdiction of another state’s department of insurance; maintain reserves not less than the amount required in Arizona; register with the Arizona Department of Insurance (DOI); and that the coverage offered meet, at a minimum, the benefit requirements of the state where the company holds a certificate. The DOI would have authority to revoke the foreign insurer’s registration for reasons that include: inadequate reserves; failure to comply with the unfair practices and fraud statute; and violation of the prompt-pay law. The bill was amended in the House and now goes back to the Senate.
As the deadline for filing legislation approaches, the Division of Colorado health Insurance released drafts of two bills aimed at bringing the state’s preventive coverage and adverse determination appeal requirements into conformity with the federal health reform law. Health insurers will have a small window of opportunity to provide comments before the bills are formally introduced. Also, a bill was filed to reclassify any product containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine as a prescription drug to help prevent access to the drug by people illegally manufacturing methamphetamines. The bill has raised strong concerns because it would require a prescription for frequently used allergy medicines and drastically increase medical costs. The sponsor has introduced a joint memorial to Congress requesting the federal government address the issue.
The fiscal note for the Connecticut health insurance Healthcare Partnership bill, which would allow voluntary municipal and small employer pooling with the state employees’ health plan, has been released and indicates the legislation would be costly to the State. Known costs (those concerning the administration of the program) would be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Other costs that could not be precisely determined include those associated with the public option (similar to the SustiNet legislation but on a much smaller scale) and lost tax revenue from the premium tax.
In other action, the Judiciary Committee passed the Cooperative Health Care Agreements bill out of committee. The legislation would permit health care providers to enter into cooperative arrangements that would not be subject to certain antitrust laws, after approval by the Attorney General. In past years, health insurance plans have successfully argued against action on the bill despite support from the committee’s membership, including both Democrats and Republicans. However, this year the new Chairs have brought the bill forward for a vote. It will now go to the House floor where it will assessed for a fiscal note. The bill still has a long road to travel, including through the Insurance Committee.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation and Georgia Department of Insurance have both asked health plans for additional information to help support their requests to HHS for a waiver from MLR regulations under ACA. The requests were prompted by an initial response from HHS asking for the additional information.
A bill that includes a prompt-pay provision that would
require third-party administrators to pay for service claims in the same timely fashion as primary insurers, or face penalties, has been passed by both chambers. The bill is opposed by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, as it would erode current employer protections under the federal Employee Retirement Security Income Act (ERISA). The Georgia Chamber will ask Governor Deal to veto this legislation.
Governor Martin O’Malley signed several bills into law last week that will impact Aetna insurance and its customers. The Health Benefit Exchange Act of 2011 establishes the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange as a public corporation and an independent unit of state government. The law sets the purposes, powers and duties of the insurance exchange, establishing the Board of Trustees and providing for the qualifications, appointments, terms, and removal of members of the Board. It requires the board to appoint an executive director of the Maryland health insurance exchange, with the approval of the Governor, and determine the executive director’s compensation. The effective date is June 1, 2011. Another law alters the circumstances under which a person has the right to a hearing and to an appeal from an action of the Maryland Insurance Commissioner. The law provides that provisions of federal law apply to specified health insurance coverage issued or delivered by insurers, non-profit health service plans, and HMOs; authorizing the Commissioner to enforce specified provisions of law. The effective date is July 1, 2011.
Newly elected Governor Rick Snyder continues to push for a 1 percent tax on all Michigan health insurance claims, which would require insurers and third-party administrators to pay $400 million in order to generate $1.2 billion in revenue for Medicaid. The tax would replace the existing 6 percent tax on all products among the 14 Medicaid HMOs. The $400 million tax would trigger $800 million in matching funds from the federal government, thereby generating $1.2 billion in total. Should the tax be passed, the Governor promised no cuts to Medicaid reimbursement rates, services or eligibility. The claims tax is the same type being phased out in Maine that was used to fund the Dirigo Health Plan.
The attorney general, a Democrat, broke with his party last week and urged a federal judge to invalidate the central provision of the new Missouri health insurance law. The filing of the brief by Attorney General Chris Koster, a onetime Republican state legislator who switched parties in 2007, underscores ACA’s political tenuousness in a critical Midwestern swing state. Koster’s action followed months of pressure from state Republicans that he join attorneys general from other states who are challenging the constitutionality of the law. Instead, Mr. Koster chose to file a “friend of the court” brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. In Missouri, a ballot referendum aimed at nullifying the law was approved by nearly three to one last year, and the legislature recently passed resolutions urging Koster to join the legal challenges. In a letter to the Republican leaders of the legislature announcing his decision to oppose the law, Koster acknowledged that the legislative resolutions, though nonbinding, were impactful as they give voice to the political will of state residents. His central argument echoed those made by plaintiffs in a number of the lawsuits.
Legislation was introduced last week prohibiting most favored nation clauses in North Carolina health insurance contracts. The Insurance Committee in the House has already held one hearing on the bill.
Governor Mary Fallin last week joined other state leaders in announcing that Oklahoma will establish an Oklahoma Health Insurance Private Enterprise Network to prevent the establishment of a federal health care exchange in Oklahoma. To address concerns expressed by some, state leaders added specific safeguards into legislation to prevent the implementation of a federal health care exchange, while creating an Oklahoma-based health insurance network. The Health Insurance Private Enterprise Network, based on a concept by the conservative Heritage Foundation and legislation passed by the legislature in 2009, would increase access to portable, private, affordable health insurance plans through a market-based network featuring competition and offering choice to consumers. The network would be governed by a board made up mostly of private sector members and chaired by the Insurance Commissioner. The network would be funded through state or private resources. The state will not accept the federal $54 million Early Innovator Grant. The legislation is expected to be amended onto a pending bill and make its way through the legislative process. which is scheduled to end May 27, 2011.
A bill designed to squeeze savings out of social programs won unanimous approval from a Senate budget subpanel last week. The bill includes about 10 ideas for greater economies – primarily in Medicaid but some in food stamps and the Children’s Texas Health Insurance Program. The biggest single savings — $290 million over the next two years — would come from eliminating a South Texas “island” of fee-for-service payments under Medicaid. Since 2003, Cameron, Hidalgo and Maverick counties have been exempt from the managed care trend at work elsewhere in Texas. The bill also would save $51 million by carving prescription drugs into Texas Medicaid managed care programs and requiring most Medicaid patients to use medicines on a state preferred drug list; save $15.9 million by moving children from the State Kids Insurance Program to the Children’s Health Insurance Program; and save $28 million by requiring Texans with disabilities who receive in-home attendant care services to use a Medicaid state program first at a lower cost to the state. The measure now heads to the full Senate Finance Committee, which is crafting its version of the much-reduced budget for 2012-13.