Consumer Groups Reap HHS Rate Review Grants
HHS this week awarded $109 million to states to strengthen the review process for proposed increases in health insurance premiums. Politico reports that some of the funding also went to consumer advocacy groups that often take on insurers. Meanwhile, California Healthline details what funding its home state secured.
Politico: Consumer Groups Grab Health Grants
A portion of federal grants to help states monitor rate hikes will be going to consumer advocacy groups that regularly pick fights with insurers — and the insurance industry is calling foul. Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded $109 million in grants to 28 states and Washington, D.C., to strengthen their review process of proposed hikes. It marked the second round of rate review funds under the health care reform law, after HHS sent out $46 million to 45 states and the District of Columbia (Nocera and Millman, 9/23).
California Healthline: California Lands HHS Rate Review Grants, But No Bonuses
In its second round of Affordable Care Act grants aimed at beefing up state oversight of health insurers, HHS handed out $109 million to 28 states and the District of Columbia. California, because of its bifurcated insurance oversight, got two grants, each worth $2.16 million ... In the Cycle II grants, HHS officials essentially created two tiers -- one for states with prior approval authority and one for those without. Of the 29 grants awarded this week, 20 included a bonus for states with the authority to accept or reject premium hikes before they take effect. California is not among those states (Lauer, 9/22).
CQ HealthBeat: Official Says Rate Review Rule Does Makes A Difference
An administration official Thursday defended a regulation that requires insurers to justify double-digit rate increases, saying that consumers "will see some mitigation" of rate increases this year because of the rule. Under the health care law, plans that have a proposed rate increase of more than 10 percent this year must notify the public and justify the increase. Next September, federal officials will set a specific level for each state that will trigger additional scrutiny instead of using the uniform 10 percent threshold, said Gary Cohen, the acting director of oversight in the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (OCIIO) (Adams, 9/22).