Health Law and Policy Update: White House report notes business participation in Colorado health exchange
This week's updates
- White House report notes business participation in Colorado health exchange
- Individual mandate will halve number without health insurance, report finds
- Focus of Families USA annual conference is on preserving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
- Colorado Health Benefit Exchange releases RFPs
- Reminder: Essential Health Benefits comments due next week
Headlines of the week
White House report notes business participation in Colorado health exchange
Colorado's progress toward establishing a health insurance exchange, an essential component of health reform, puts it in the company of 27 other states and the District of Columbia, according to a progress report on exchange implementation the White House issued Jan. 18.
The report details work on establishing the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange and notes "Organizations such as the Colorado branch of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry have been active participants in the creating the small business component of the Exchange."
Colorado created the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange through legislation last year (SB11-200) and was the only state to do so on a bipartisan basis.
Advancing the debate
Individual mandate will halve number without health insurance, report finds
The number of Americans lacking health insurance will decline by nearly half thanks to the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to research The Urban Institute released Jan. 12. Researchers simulated the effects of health reform with and without the mandate.
"Without a mandate, about 40 million would remain uninsured. Depending on the effectiveness of the health benefit exchanges in enrolling those eligible for subsidized coverage, exchange premiums would be 10 to 25 percent higher without a mandate," researchers wrote.
This is more or less consistent with Colorado projections. Based on analysis conducted by MIT economist, Jonathan Gruber, for the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, by 2016 about 390,000 Coloradans will be uninsured as compared to the 830,000 Coloradans who are uninsured today.
Gruber's analysis is available from the Data Advisory Work Group of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange.
Focus of Families USA annual conference is on preserving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Last week, the national health care advocacy organization, Families USA, hosted their annual Health Action conference. Colorado was well represented, as a group of state advocates made the trip to DC, collaborating with state partners from around the US to plan for the health policy challenges that will face the country in 2012. The central theme of the conference was preserving and successfully implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which will extend coverage to millions of previously uninsured Americans. United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, spoke about the importance of PPACA. Secretary Sebelius said that due to PPACA, the United States is "moving closer to the day when we'll be able to say for the first time in American history that - whether you're young or old, whether you work for a big company or a small company or for yourself, whether you're rich or poor - you'll have access to quality, affordable health insurance. It's about time we could say that in America."
The full text of Secretary Sebelius's speech is available from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Colorado Health Benefit Exchange releases RFPs
On Monday the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange released two requests for proposals (RFPs) for a Service and Technology vendor to construct the Exchange and its call center operations, and a Project Management Office vendor to provide project management support for staffing and operations and the selection process for the technology solutions. The Service and Technology proposals are due by February 27, 2012 and the Project Management Office proposals are due February 10, 2012. The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange also posted a job announcment for a Health Plan Manager.
Reminder: Essential Health Benefits comments due next week
One of the most critical decision points in the implementation of health reform is definition of Essential Health Benefits (EHB). EHB will serve as the standard for benefits in the individual and small group markets both inside and outside the Exchange. The Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight released a Bulletin last month on EHB and invited public comment on Secretary Sebelius' approach. The purpose of the bulletin is to provide information and solicit comments on the regulatory approach that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to propose to define EHB. Comments are due next week, on January 31st. The Bulletin is the beginning of the rulemaking process, the next steps are likely to be issuance of a revised Bulletin, draft rules and then final rules. CCLP has a number of concerns about the approach taken in the Bulletin, mostly centered around the significant flexibility given to states and ultimately health plans to define essential health benefits. One of the central promises of health reform is that the kind of flexibility we see today, where people have widely different access to essential benefits and services depending on what they can afford, where they live, and how effectively health plans can design benefits packages that exclude the sick, will be constrained, if not eliminated. It's important for consumers to weigh in on this discussion at the federal and state level. The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange has draft comments on its website. CCLP will post its comments early next week. We urge all of our readers to pay attention to this debate.
The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange comments can be found in the Rules and Regulation Review committee section of their website.
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Released Jan. 27, 2012