The Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (“CMS”) recently released a final rule establishing the new medical loss ratio requirements under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). Under the ACA, individual and small group market insurers are required to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care and quality improvement, and large group market insurers must spend at least 85 percent of premium dollars on the same services. The final rule describes the technical process for calculating medical loss ratio and also provides details on insurers’ annual medical loss ratio reporting requirements, as well as the ACA’s requirement that insurers grant rebates to consumers in the event the insurer fails to meet the required medical loss ratio.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently cited as “excessive” a 12% insurance rate increase proposed by Everest Insurance under a Pennsylvania insurance plan. HHS’ finding that the rate increase was excessive was the first such move under the Affordable Care Act, which gives HHS the authority to review insurance rate increases over 10% and cite them as excessive. Although the Affordable Care Act does not give HHS the authority to sanction insurers attempting to push through excessive rate increases, the hope is that publicizing the excessive rate increases will increase transparency and accountability.
Read HHS’ full news release here.
vIn a highly anticipated decision, on November 14, 2011 the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in three cases on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”): National Federation of Independent Business v. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of HHS, et al.; Florida, et al. v. Department of Health and Human Services; and Department of Health & Human Services et al. v. Florida, et al. The Court’s review will address four fundamental questions: (1) whether the ACA’s individual mandate is constitutional, (2) whether the individual mandate may be severed from the ACA if it is unconstitutional, (3) whether the claim brought by the opponents to the mandate is barred by another federal statute, and (4) whether the ACA’s expansion to Medicaid coverage was valid. The Court has granted a total of four and a half hours of oral argument for the three issues, which is highly unusual. This decision will be monumental for the future of the ACA, and will be closely followed by Duane Morris attorneys.
View the United States Supreme Court’s order here.
On November 8, 2011, in the latest scrimmage regarding the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) individual mandate, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the mandate’s constitutionality. The Court found that Congress could create “national solutions to national problems, no matter how local–or seemingly passive–their individual origins,” and that the individual mandate was therefore constitutional because it was within Congress’ authority.
On November 10, 2011, the United States Supreme Court will hold a private conference to decide whether to hear the challenges to the ACA.
Read the entire decision here.
On September 13, 2011, the United States District Court of the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was unconstitutional as a violation of the Commerce Clause. In Goudy-Bachman v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, No. 1:10-CV-763 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 13, 2011), the court found, similar to its predecessors in other courts, that the federal government was one of limited enumerated powers and that “Congress [could not] invoke its Commerce Clause power to compel individuals to buy insurance as a condition of lawful citizenship or residency.” Thus, although the court recognized that “[t]he nation undoubtedly faces a health care crisis,” it severed the individual mandate, the guaranteed issue, and preexisting conditions reforms from the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional. However, because the provisions found unconstitutional were severed from the Affordable Care Act, this decision allows the rest of the Act to stay intact and operative. The full decision is available at http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/opinions/conner/10v763a.pdf.
On Friday, August 12, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the individual mandate provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Act”) is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. However, the court refused to hold the entire Act unconstitutional, ruling instead that the individual mandate provision is severable from the rest of the Act. The decision creates a circuit split because it conflicts with the recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which rejected a challenge to the individual mandate provision’s constitutionality.
On August 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced guidelines requiring new health insurance plans to provide certain preventive services to women without cost-sharing. The guidelines were developed by the Institute of Medicine. The preventive services that will no longer be subject to any co-payment, co-insurance or deductible include well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, HPV testing for women 30 years of age and older, sexually-transmitted infection counseling, HIV screening and counseling, contraception and contraception counseling, breastfeeding support, and domestic violence screening and counseling. New health insurance plans must comply for plan years starting on or after August 1, 2012.
To read more about this announcement, please go to http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/08/20110801b.html.
On January 31, 2011, a United States District Court in Florida held that the individual mandate provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Act”) is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The court also held that “[b]ecause the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void.” The court reasoned that “[i]f [Congress] has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting—as was done in the Act—that compelling the actual transaction is itself ‘commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce’ . . . it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted.” In concluding its decision, the court emphasized that the ruling only addressed a constitutional issue and that it was not about whether the Act was good or bad legislation.
On December 21, 2010, CMS released Transmittal 2122 providing instructions for waiving coinsurance and deductibles for certain preventative services provided in Rural Health Clinics, as provided for in Section 4104 of the Affordable Care Act. Qualifying preventative services are those recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force with a grade of A or B. The transmittal is effective for services provided on or after January 1, 2011.
To read Transmittal 2122, please go to: http://www2.cms.gov/transmittals/downloads/R2122CP.pdf.
On October 29, the Labor Department released a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the grandfather requirements under the ACA.