“……We are seeking to empower states with new opportunities that will strengthen their health insurance markets.”
Thomas E. Price, M.D., The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), A Letter To Governors, dated March 13, 2017
On March 13, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sent a letter to state governors to highlight Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Beginning in 2017, Section 1332 allows states to apply for a State Innovation Waiver from certain ACA requirements.
With the lawmakers firmly stuck in the healthcare mud, one wonders if some states might start to make health insurance changes on their own. Under a little known provision of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1332) called the State Innovation Waiver, states have the ability to make changes by applying for waivers from certain major provisions of the law beginning this year (2017). These waivers are intended to allow states the flexibility to pursue innovative strategies for providing their residents with access to high quality, affordable health insurance, while retaining some of the consumer protections of the ACA.
Examples of things that may be waived include:
- Establishment of qualified health plans (QHPs);
- Consumer choices and insurance competition through the Exchanges;
- Premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions for plans offered within the Exchanges;
- The employer shared responsibility rules; and
- The individual mandate.
While this provision and Price’s recent letter on the subject seemingly flew under the radar, you have to wonder if we might start to see some states initiating their own changes to Obamacare. If this is going to happen, we’ll likely start hearing about it in the next few months. Sometime this summer is when carriers submit rate increases or announce intentions to withdraw from the individual market all together. Analysts are predicting both to happen. It’s anticipated carriers will request huge rate increases — sticker shock on steroids — for individual plans on and off exchange. And, more carriers are expected to be leaving the individual market. Aetna and UnitedHealthcare are already out, and Bloomberg recently reported that Anthem (BlueCross and Blue Shield in 14 states) is leaning toward exiting in most if not all of its markets.
I doubt anyone really knows where all this is going, or where it will end up. Maybe some states will act, maybe not.
One thing that’s almost certain: Access to employer sponsored health plans will be more important than any time since Obamacare (ACA) became law.
Here’s a link to more info: HHS Promotes ACA Section 1332 Waivers