White House To Expand Federal Marketplace Plan Standards in 2015, Broaden Choices
The Obama administration will rely less on state insurance regulators and private groups in determining which plans will meet standards to sell insurance on the federal marketplace.
The New York Times: White House Tightens Health Plan’s Standards After Consumers Complain
The Obama administration issued stringent new standards on Friday for health insurance to address a flood of complaints from consumers who said that costs were too high and that the choice of doctors, hospitals and prescription drugs was too limited in many health plans offered this year under the Affordable Care Act. In deciding which products can be sold in the federal marketplace next year, officials said, they will scrutinize health plans more closely and rely less on evaluations by state insurance regulators and private groups that accredit health plans. ... Officials issued the new standards, buried in a stack of documents, at 7:15 p.m. on Friday even as President Obama was stepping up efforts to increase enrollment in health plans this year (Pear, 3/14).
The Washington Post: White House Orders Broader Obamacare Health Plans In 2015
The Obama administration is requiring health plans in Obamacare insurance marketplaces to include a more robust offering of care providers in 2015 after some early backlash over limited networks in the health care law's first year. Health plans selling on the federal marketplaces in 2015 must include 30 percent of area "essential community providers," which are usually health centers and other hospitals serving mostly low-income patients. That's up from a 20 percent requirement in 2014, the first year of expanded overage under the health care law (Millman, 3/14).
Other policy changes and directives were announced, too -
The Hill: HHS Outlines Policy Changes To Lift Insurers
Federal health officials dropped regulations late Friday outlining how they plan to help insurance companies stuck with unanticipated costs due to Obamacare's botched rollout. In a 279-page document, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) detailed adjustments to the healthcare law's "risk corridors" program, a means for shifting money from insurers who fare better under the new system to those who fare worse (Viebeck, 3/14).
Reuters: Insurers Must Accept Funds From U.S. Program That Helps HIV-AIDS Patients
The lead agency for President Barack Obama's healthcare reform announced on Friday that it would require, rather than merely encourage, insurers that sell Obamacare policies to accept funds from a federal program that helps people with HIV-AIDS pay health insurance premiums. Earlier this year, BlueCross BlueShield of Louisiana, the state's largest carrier, said it would begin rejecting checks from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program for Obamacare policies it sells (Begley, 3/14).
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported on this enrollment deadline "workaround" plan -
The Wall Street Journal: Health Site Plans Deadline Leeway
Federal officials are planning a workaround that would effectively extend the March 31 deadline to enroll for health-care coverage for some users if technical glitches hamper a last-minute surge of signups on healthcare.gov, people familiar with the matter say. ... Under the workaround plan, people who can demonstrate that they tried to enroll in a plan before the deadline, but failed because of website troubles, would be able to sign up after March 31. Details are still being hammered out including how long the so-called special-enrollment period would last and what documentation people might need to offer as proof they were blocked by glitches, say people familiar with the matter (Weaver, Ante and Radnofsky, 3/14).