On February 24, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that states can begin to apply for a second round of grants, which they can use to create or improve existing health insurance premium review programs. Approximately $200 million is available to states to better track and review premium rate increases, and make the rate process more transparent to consumers. HHS anticipates that the state review programs will also enable states to challenge or even prevent unreasonable premium increases from being implemented. This round of grants marks the federal government’s continued effort to combat rising health insurance premiums.
To read more about this announcement and to see how to access grant funding, please go to http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/ratereview02242011a.html.
On February 16, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the states that will receive a total of $241 million to design and implement the IT infrastructure used to operate health insurance exchanges. The seven states selected by HHS are known as “early innovator” states because the infrastructure that they establish may be adopted by other states to set up their own exchanges. This announcement demonstrates HHS’s commitment to funding the development of user-friendly systems that will enable consumers to easily navigate the exchanges.
To read more about the IT grants and see the list of states scheduled to receive grant funding, please go to http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/exchanges02162011a.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.
Continue reading Federal Judge in Florida Strikes Down the Health Reform Law
On January 20, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an additional grant funding opportunity for states to establish their health insurance exchanges. Two types of grants will be available: Level One and Level Two. Level One grants will provide states with funding for up to one year, and subsequent to the first year, states may apply for a second year of Level One funding. Level Two grants, which provide states with funding through December 31, 2014, are available for those states that are further along in the implementation of their exchanges. For states to receive funding at either level, they must submit plans to HHS outlining how they intend to implement the exchanges along with anticipated expenditures. HHS did not disclose the amount of funding available for the grants, but it noted that funding will vary based on state need. For additional information regarding the grants, please see the Health Insurance Exchange Establishment Grants Fact Sheet.