White House Expected To Release Several ACA Rules After Election
Within days of Tuesday's presidential election, the Obama administration is poised to release a raft of rules and regulations regarding some of the key provisions in the Affordable Care Act, Politico reports.
Until recently, the administration had been releasing ACA rules and regulations at a steady pace, but that pace has slowed in an effort to avoid controversies ahead of the election, according to Politico.
Regulations Expected To Be Released Soon
However, HHS could begin releasing the backlog of directives and regulations as soon as Wednesday, as states face a Nov. 16 deadline to decide whether they will implement a health insurance exchange -- as required under the ACA -- or defer to the federal government to operate one for them.
In addition, the administration has yet to issue final regulations on the:
- Minimum coverage requirements for health plans that will be offered in the exchanges;
- Individual mandate; and
- Definitions of "part-time" and "full-time" workers with regards to the penalties that would be levied on employers that do not provide affordable coverage options.
The administration also has not released final rules on how certain religious employers would be able to avoid the contraceptive coverage requirements under the ACA.
If President Obama is re-elected, implementation of the various provisions is expected to continue as scheduled over the next several years. However, if Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney wins in Tuesday's election, Obama administration officials would have to work quickly to finalize and issue the regulations because Romney's administration could halt any directives not in place by Nov. 22 -- 60 days before Romney is sworn in on Jan. 20, according to Politico (Haberkorn, Politico, 11/5).
Possible Conflicts of Interest
In related news, the looming deadline for states to indicate their positions on the health insurance exchanges offers the Obama administration limited time to identify any conflicts of interest in private-sector partnerships, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
For example, questions already have been raised about a potential conflict of interest between UnitedHealth Group and Quality Software Services Inc., a Maryland-based external contractor. UnitedHealth recently acquired QSS, which in January won a large contract to build a federal data services hub that would be used to operate a federally run health insurance exchange.
According to "Healthwatch," the transaction was not disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which spurred concerns that UnitedHealth's insurance subsidiary, United Healthcare, might benefit from the QSSI acquisition. The acquisition drew the attention of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who recently sent a letter to HHS demanding details about every contractor and subcontractor that will help build the federally run exchange, "Healthwatch" reports.
Don Nathan -- chief communications officer for UnitedHealth Group -- said QSSI would not have regulatory authority over the federal exchange, while a CMS official said the contractor "will not be making qualitative decisions about health plans in the exchange" (Bolton, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 11/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.