Healthcare Business News

Feds propose reform-law waiver regs

By Rich Daly
Posted: March 10, 2011 - 2:30 pm ET

Federal officials proposed regulations Thursday to implement the healthcare law's limited waiver provisions.

The regulations would implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's “waiver for state innovation,” which allows states to request some flexibility regarding the law's requirements beginning in 2017. But those waivers still would require that the alternative approaches that states undertake provide insurance coverage to at least the same number of people and with equivalent benefits—among other requirements—as the reform law would. In other words, only states suggesting insurance initiatives more generous—and more costly to them—would likely qualify for these waivers.

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“Innovation waivers offer states flexibility while ensuring that all Americans, no matter where they live, have access to affordable, high-quality health insurance and receive the benefits and protections under the new patients' bill of rights,” Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, director of coverage policy in the HHS Office of Health Reform, said in a conference call.

Vermont, where legislators have urged a single-payer system, is viewed as the most likely recipient of such a waiver.

Republicans have dismissed the law's waiver because none of the approaches they favor for expanding healthcare coverage while controlling costs likely would qualify.

Among the latest Republican proposals for waivers was legislation introduced Feb. 9 by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), which would allow either individuals or companies to apply to disregard the law's major provisions.

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