HHS Publishes Information Highlighting Positive Impacts of Health Reform

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released a string of news releases over the last month highlighting positive effects already felt by the early implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as health reform. This comes at a time when the Supreme Court of the Unites States (SCOTUS) is preparing to hear arguments about the constitutionality of several provisions in the ACA law.

 

Affordable Care Act holding insurers accountable for premium hikes, HHS News Release: January 12, 2012

“Health insurance premium increases in five states have been deemed “unreasonable” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today… To make these determinations, HHS used its “rate review” authority from the Affordable Care Act (the health care law of 2010) to determine whether premium increases of over 10 percent are reasonable… “Before the Affordable Care Act, consumers were in the dark about their health insurance premiums because there was no nationwide transparency or accountability,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius… In addition to the review of rate increases, many states have the authority to reject unreasonable premium increases.  Since the passage of the health care reform law, the number of states with this authority increased from 30 to 37, with several states extending existing “prior authority” to new markets.”

 

Affordable Care Act provision cuts red tape, saves up to $4.5 billion, HHS News Release: January 5, 2012

“New standards for electronic funds transfers in health care, required by the Affordable Care Act, will reduce up to $4.5 billion off administrative costs for doctors and hospitals, private health plans, states, and other government health plans, over the next ten years, according to estimates included in new rules published today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)…The standards build upon regulations published earlier this year that set industry-wide standards for how health providers use electronic systems to quickly and easily determine a patient’s eligibility for health coverage and check on the status of a health claim. Together, the two regulations implementing the Administrative Simplification provisions of the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are projected to save the health care industry more than $16 billion over the next 10 years… currently when a provider submits a claim electronically for payment, a health plan often sends a Remittance Advice separately from the Electronic Funds Transfers payment.  The disconnect between the two makes it difficult or sometimes impossible for the provider to match up the bill and the corresponding payment.  Today’s rule addresses this by requiring the use of a trace number that automatically matches the two.  The new tracking system will allow health care providers to eliminate costly manual reconciliation that must currently be done… The regulation is effective January 1, 2012.  All health plans covered under HIPAA must comply by January 1, 2014.”

 

Affordable Care Act support for school-based health centers – Will create jobs, increase access to care for thousands of children, HHS News Release: December 8, 2011

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more than $14 million was awarded today to 45 school-based health centers across the country allowing the number of children served to increase by nearly 50 percent… Clinics receiving the awards, made possible by the health reform law, are already providing much-needed health care services to 112,000 children.  Today’s infusion of new money will enable them to expand their capacity and modernize their facilities, which will allow them to treat an estimated additional 53,000 children in 29 States… School-based health centers enable children with acute or chronic illnesses to attend school, and improve the overall health and wellness of all children through health screenings, health promotion and disease prevention activities… The Affordable Care Act provides $200 million in funding from 2010 – 2013 for the School-Based Health Center Capital Program to address significant and pressing capital needs and to improve delivery and support expansion of services at school-based health centers.”