More than 700 pages of healthcare rules released

The Hill by Megan R. Wilson – Image

March 1, 2013:

The Obama administration on Friday released more than 700 pages of new regulations to implement portions of the Affordable Care Act.

The four rules, which are scheduled for publication in mid-March, finalize both major and minor parts of the healthcare reform law that Congress passed in 2010.

Three of the regulations are final and roll out the multistate healthcare exchanges and reforms to the insurance market, including provisions to encourage cost-sharing, stabilize health insurance premiums and prevent providers from denying coverage.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the rules would “help to ensure that every American has access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.”

The rules will become effective on May 11, and HHS will take comments on an interim final regulation regarding cost-savings programs and government risk pooling for 60 days after those rules are published.

The other rule is a proposal to implement the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), making it effective on Jan. 1, 2015.

The change in the effective date is due to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services receiving comments that warned of the difficulties in implementing the program.

The SHOPs will be integrated into state insurance exchanges as a service to small employers that choose to join.

The program is designed to make it easier for small businesses to offer employees a range of coverage choices. Through the SHOP system, workers will be able to compare plans side-by-side, and employers will have the option of making a monthly payment to SHOP rather than multiple insurance plans.

Comments on the SHOP proposals are due by April 11.

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