KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

HHS Unveils Proposed Waiver Regs For States

The guidance is designed to help implement the health law's waiver provision for state innovation, which would allow some states flexibility as long as they meet key conditions related to coverage, benefits and cost.

Bloomberg: States May Avoid Health-Law Mandates By Matching Coverage
U.S. states will be able to avoid mandates in the health care overhaul starting in 2017 by matching or exceeding the law's expansion of insurance coverage and maintaining its consumer protections. Under rules to be issued today by the Obama administration, states may dodge provisions that have sparked debate such as a mandate that most Americans purchase insurance. To gain approval, the states also will have to prove their plans won't add to the deficit. Vermont's governor, Democrat Peter Shumlin, has said he seeks to use an escape clause in the law to create a government-run health system that would cover every resident and put private insurers, including Cigna Corp., out of business in that state (Wayne, 3/10).

National Journal: HHS Regulations Follow Obama Waiver Endorsement
The Department of Health and Human Services rolled out proposed regulations Thursday laying out exactly how states can apply to get a waiver from major pieces of the health care law, including state insurance exchanges and a requirement that individuals buy health insurance. The HHS announcement comes just over two weeks after President Obama backed bipartisan legislation from Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Scott Brown, R-Mass., to move the waiver date in the law from 2017 to 2014. Obama's announcement was widely characterized as an effort to soothe state governors' concerns over the cost of Medicaid eligibility requirements enshrined in the health law (McCarthy, 3/10).

Modern Healthcare: Feds Propose Reform-Law Waiver Regs
Federal officials proposed regulations Thursday to implement the health care 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 (Daly, 3/10).

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