Health insurers that don't comply with the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act can be banned from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program under an executive order issued by President Clinton last week at a White House Rose Garden ceremony.
The HIPAA was designed to allow workers who change jobs to carry their insurance coverage with them and bars insurers from using pre-existing conditions as a reason to deny coverage.
Clinton also ordered HCFA to begin an outreach campaign to register the more than 3 million low-income seniors who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid but who do not receive the benefits. Last year's balanced-budget law included about $1.5 billion for expansion of the program that assists low-income seniors with their Medicare premiums and deductibles. Seniors with incomes up to 175% of the federal poverty level of $11,090 now are eligible for some assistance. But while about 1.6 million seniors were eligible for the program, less than 5,000 have taken advantage of it, the White House said.
With Clinton was Ron Pollack (pictured at left), executive director of the consumers' group Families USA, which supported Clinton's move, and HHS Secretary Donna Shalala.