The CMS said it will not accept new applications for waivers from the health reform law’s annual limit restrictions or requests for extensions on currently granted waivers after Sept. 22.
Late News: No more annual limit waiver applications after September
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act prohibits health plans from imposing annual limits on health insurance coverage beginning in 2014. Until that time, annual limits are being phased out to maintain access to coverage, generally for so-called “mini-med” plans. Today, plans are not allowed to impose an annual limit lower than $750,000. In September, that number will jump to $1.25 million, and increase to $2 million in September 2012. The waivers granted to date allow for about 3 million people—or roughly 2% of all privately insured Americans—to maintain coverage. The new guidance allows waivers to be extended through 2013 with a Sept. 22 deadline to apply, Steven Larsen, director of the CMS’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said in a conference call. “After that date, no applications for extensions will be considered,” Larsen said. The issue has been a contentious one on Capitol Hill, where Republicans have questioned whether the administration was more likely to grant waivers to friendly businesses and organizations—particularly unions. Larsen said the guidance was “absolutely not” an attempt to neutralize a political issue before the 2012 elections.
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