KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

HHS Offers New Grants To Help States With Insurance Rate Reviews

These grants are designed to assist states in creating or enhancing their reviews of the premiums charged by health insurance companies.

Reuters: US Government Sends Health Care Funds To Worried States
The federal government on Thursday announced funding to help U.S. states evaluate health insurance rates and run preventive medicine programs, just as many state officials worry they cannot afford to carry out reforms included in the massive health care law. Starting in August, states can apply for three-year grants worth $3 million to create or enhance their reviews of the premiums health insurance companies charge, said Steve Larsen, director of the Health and Human Services Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (Lambert, 2/24).

The Hill: HHS Offers New Grants For Insurance Rate Reviews
States can apply for $200 million in health care reform grants to develop programs preventing "unreasonable" health insurance rate hikes, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday. The sweeping health care overhaul enacted 11 months ago requires health insurers in the small-group and individual markets to justify rate hikes deemed unreasonable. About $150 million announced Thursday will help states create and enhance rate review programs. Another $22.5 million will be given to states with higher populations, while $27.5 million will go to states with programs that allow them to block an insurance rate from going into effect - a power that many states currently lack (Millman, 2/24).

National Journal: As Reform Dollars Flow, Red States Hedge Their Bets
Republican governors and even some Democrats may be criticizing President Obama's health care overhaul, but that's not stopping them from taking federal handouts with one hand while holding their nose with the other. The nearly year-old law will affect every corridor of the country's $2.5 trillion health care sector. In the short term, however, states see it as a practical ATM machine, tapping billions in available federal grants to gain some financial leeway before the major costs come due. The Department of Health and Human Services has funneled billions of dollars to state coffers since last spring, when Obama signed the sweeping legislation into law. On Thursday, his administration offered another $100 million in grants to help boost healthier living among those on Medicaid and $200 million to help states regulate health insurers. More than $886 million has gone to states whose governors are waging a public fight to unravel the nearly year-old law (DoBias, 2/24).

Modern Healthcare: HHS Announces Grants For Insurance Rate Reviews
HHS has announced nearly $200 million in grants available to states in order to enhance their insurance rate review processes. A total of $250 million in state rate review funding was made available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Last August, HHS awarded $46 million to 45 states and the District of Columbia to enhance their insurance rate review functions (Vesely, 2/24).

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