Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has asked HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt for data on how the CMS is enforcing a provision of the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that requires insurance companies to provide basic coverage for individuals leaving a grouphealth plan.
Kennedy, who serves as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, asked in a letter for information concerning complaints submitted to (CMS) alleging violations of provisions of (HIPAA) that guarantee portability of health insurance benefits.
Specifically, Kennedy pointed to sections of HIPAA that require insurance carriers in states without state-established, high-risk pools or similar mechanisms to provide at least one policy form comparable to either comprehensive coverage in the states individual health insurance market or standard coverage under the states group- or individual-market laws.
In subsequent regulations to implement HIPAA, the CMS was tasked with collecting, maintaining and addressing complaints of HIPAA violationsincluding the so-called group-to-individual portability requirement, the letter said. Kennedy wants his office to be provided with all complaints about the law being violated that have been filed with the CMS over the past year, including complaints that insurance carriers have inappropriately delayed processing applications for individual insurance coverage for eligible individuals.
There are indications the portability provisions arent being properly enforced, said Kennedy spokeswoman Laura Capps. -- by Joseph Conn
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