The Health Law’s Moving Parts: Essential Benefits, Innovation And Consumer-Friendly Plan Information
News outlets report on a variety of health law implementation news, ranging from how a new center is testing ways to improve care and cut costs, to efforts to salvage consumer information requirements for health plans and to define essential benefits.
The Washington Post: Center For Medicare And Medicaid Innovation Aims To Cut Health-Care Costs
The Obama administration touts it as a key solution to the nation's runaway health-care spending: a new national center set up by the 2010 health-care law to test and implement groundbreaking ways to cut costs while improving patient care. On Thursday, a little more than 14 months after the center opened, officials will release a report summarizing its progress: 16 recent initiatives, funded with more than $1.7 billion in federal money, that will involve more than 50,000 providers over the next five years (Aizenman, 1/26).
The Associated Press: User-Friendly Health Plan Summaries At Risk
Consumer groups are scrambling to salvage a popular provision of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul that suddenly seems to be in question. This time it's not Republican opposition they're worried about, but the White House itself. At issue is a requirement that health plans provide simple, standard summaries of coverage and costs to help consumers pick benefits that are right for them — a sort of "CliffsNotes" version of cryptic insurance company jargon (Alonso-Zaldivar, 1/26).
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Important New Understanding About Essential Benefits? Not Everyone Thinks So
The Department of Health and Human Services today released a document intended to preview the kinds of benefits most health plans must offer starting in 2014. But one consumer advocate said it does not provide nearly enough information to be helpful (Werber Serafini, 1/25).
CQ HealthBeat: CMS Rounds Up 'Illustrative' List Of Benchmark Plans In States
Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Wednesday released a list of the kinds of benchmark plans that states could consider when formulating their essential health benefits packages. But they warn that the examples are for "illustrative purposes" only and not an official list of state options. The document comes about a month after the Obama administration issued a "guidance bulletin" on essential benefits that gave states the flexibility to base their packages on existing benchmark plans rather than federal standards. These benefit packages — which will apply to individuals and small businesses —must be offered in plans in the state-run exchanges (Norman, 1/25).
CQ HealthBeat: Larsen Courts Broker Involvement In SHOP Exchanges
The top federal official overseeing the creation of insurance exchanges on Wednesday emphasized the importance of a "strong and active role" for insurance agents and brokers in making successes of the new marketplaces created under the health care law. Specifically, Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), emphasized the importance of agents in working with the federal government in creating exchanges for small businesses in states that do not set up their own exchanges under the health care overhaul law (Reichard, 1/25).
Medscape: An ACO Visionary Talks Implementation, Healthcare Reform
Dr. Adashi: It may not be an exaggeration to say that the ACO at its best will implement some of the best features of American medicine as we would like to see it. Dr. Fisher: I think there's a tremendous opportunity for us to step off the treadmill that so many physicians feel they're running on. It's probably better to think of a hamster wheel that's turning; they cut the fees and you have to just run that much harder (Adashi 1/25).