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Health Insurance Quotes Reform Weekly

CALIFORNIA: The California Department of Insurance (CDI) has announced the release of e-mail notification system that will alert consumers when new individual health insurance rate filings are submitted.  CDI has previously announced that it would begin publicizing rate filings for individual health insurance policies.  Consumers are able to sign up online in the manner used for traditional e-mail updates.  CDI has also developed a consumer website with rate filing information.

NEW JERSEY: Following recent enactment of Governor Chris Christie’s budget, the Democrat-controlled legislature passed supplemental appropriations bills to restore million in funding for state’s uninsured health coverage program, known as FamilyCare, as well as .4 million in aid for women’s health and family planning programs. The FamilyCare restoration, if signed into law, would have allowed adults with income between 134 to 200 percent of the federal poverty level to remain in the program. Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, Governor Christie vetoed the legislation, saying that the state has reset spending to a level that taxpayers can afford. Legislative leadership has indicated they may try to override the governor’s veto. Overriding the governor’s veto would require a two-thirds majority in both houses.

NEW MEXICO: The Public Regulation Commission (PRC) has appointed John G. Franchini as the new Superintendent of Insurance, a position that has been vacant since the May 4 resignation of his predecessor, Morris Chavez.  Franchini was selected from among five finalists and will assume his new duties in mid-August.


OHIO: While the Strickland Administration has advised state agencies to begin planning for the next biennium at both current levels and with a 10 percent cut in funding levels, the Budget Planning and Management Commission has been conducting hearings preparing for Ohio’s biennial budget adoption. The current budget ends on June 30, 2011 and is billions in the red. Testimony before the Commission has focused on increasing efficiencies by combining certain administrative functions of local and state governments and utilizing performance audits to determine if tax dollars are being spent efficiently. The Center for Community Solutions suggested to legislators that principal stakeholders in Medicaid (such as managed care companies and hospitals) be given budget targets and be asked to come up with ways to slow the growth of Medicaid. Conversely, the Health Policy Institute of Ohio guided legislators to the possibility of Ohio “rebalancing” its long-term care spending to shift utilization from long-term care facilities to home and community-based services.

While PPACA-related budget priorities will take place after the next biennial budget is adopted, it was previously determined that the federal expansion of Medicaid eligibility as part of health care reform will cost the state 0 million in 2014 –rising to 2 million by 2019. Absent any federal law changes, annual costs will rise substantially in 2020 and beyond, as the federal government’s match for new enrollees will drop to 90 percent of the total cost. The total state cost of Medicaid expansion from 2014 to 2019 is projected to be .45 billion.

OKLAHOMA: The Department of Insurance (DOI) announced last week that a final contract for the new temporary high-risk pool has been signed and sent back to HHS.  The DOI is in the process of drafting the application that will be used with the pool.  Oklahoma was awarded million for use over 40 months.  Several candidates are being interviewed to be the High Risk Pool Manager.  Open enrollment will begin August 1 with an effective date of September 1.  Additionally, Oklahoma was the only state to request an open enrollment period for the PPACA provision requiring coverage of children under 19 in the individual market.  HHS has decided open enrollment periods will be permitted at the discretion of insurance companies.  On a separate issue, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments to take place on August 4 in the lawsuit filed by Commissioner Kim Holland, on behalf of the DOI, challenging the constitutionality of a new 1 percent claims-paid fee passed by the legislature in late May.  The bill is scheduled to take effect August 27, absent court intervention.



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Health Insurance Quotes Reform Weekly January


Although the House vote to repeal health care reform is symbolic only (given the Democratic Senate and White House), it is a necessary first step leading to committee by committee action over the coming months on discrete provisions of health care. One such item, medical malpractice liability reform, got a hearing last week before the House Judiciary Committee as Republicans paraded several witnesses before the committee to showcase the need for legislation from the physicians’ perspective. Since it is very unlikely that the American Medical Association’s wish list would ever become law, the best result from the committee process would be a bill that skirts the more controversial items (e.g., cap on damages) and focuses on attainable and meaningful reforms, such as health courts, stronger pre-trial evaluation and settlement pathways.  This would be a path Aetna would strongly support.


ARIZONA: Governor Jan Brewer has announced that she will request a waiver from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services so that the state can set Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) eligibility below levels mandated by the PPACA. In March 2010, Governor Brewer signed a fiscal year 2011 budget that stripped funding for the state’s Children’s Health Insurance program (KidsCare) and cut 5 million from AHCCCS, effectively repealing an expansion of AHCCCS to childless adults approved by voters in 2000. However, following enactment of the PPACA, the state rescinded the scheduled cuts to comply with the law’s “maintenance of efforts” (MOE) requirement. The MOE requirement prohibits a state from having eligibility standards, methodologies, or procedures for adults that are more restrictive than those in effect on March 23, 2010, until a health insurance exchange in the state is fully operational, and for all children in Medicaid and CHIP through September 30, 2019. The MOE requirement provides an exception for non-pregnant, non-disabled adults earning more than 133 percent of the federal poverty level if a state is projected to have a budget deficit. Arizona faces a mid-year budget deficit estimated at 5 million. A .4 billion shortfall is projected for the 2012 fiscal year.

CALIFORNIA: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review whether health care providers and patients have the right to sue California over budget reductions made to Medi-Cal reimbursements. The high court will review three legal challenges to California’s proposed and adopted reimbursement cuts. The Supreme Court’s ruling on the case could have major implications for efforts to address California’s budget deficit. Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) released a budget proposal that would reduce Medi-Cal payments to health care providers by 10 percent to cut program spending by about 9 million in fiscal year 2011-2012. In addition, the case could have implications for other states seeking to address budget deficits by cutting Medicaid payments. With federal courts in California blocking the cuts, 22 states have joined California in appealing the issue to the Supreme Court.  The court is expected to hear oral arguments in the case next fall. A decision is expected in late 2011 or early 2012.

CONNECTICUT: Speaker Chris Donovan, members of the Public Health and Insurance Committees and a variety of advocates held a press conference last week to announce the Public Health Committee has raised the SustiNet bill based on the recent recommendations of the SustiNet Board. Few details were provided, but the original report recommends that SustiNet become a licensed insurance plan. “We don’t need health insurance anymore, we need to move towards health assurance — health care that will be there for us, and the SustiNet plan will do that,” Donovan said. Lawmakers will face a .7 billion budget deficit by July 1. Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, co-chairwoman of the Public Health Committee, said the plan will have to go before multiple legislative committees, with the actual bill some weeks away. A financial analysis on upfront costs is not yet available. Aetna is working with the Connecticut Association of Health Plans (CTAHP) and AHIP to secure an objective fiscal analysis of SustiNet’s, as a public option, true cost to the state, and of the strong, positive impact health insurers have on the state’s economy.

DELAWARE: In his State of the State speech, Governor Jack Markell emphasized the need for state government to spend more efficiently.  He specifically noted that the demands state employee health insurance and pensions are putting on the state budget are unsustainable. The Governor specifically stated he is open