GOP law­mak­ers crit­i­cize HHS for is­su­ing bul­letin

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

Repub­li­can law­mak­ers chided HHS for a lack of trans­parency in the depart­ment’s De­cem­ber bul­letin about es­sen­tial health ben­e­fits un­der the health­care re­form law. HHS said in the guid­ance that states could de­velop their own pack­ages of ser­vices that in­sur­ers must cover—as long as any plan cho­sen by a state cov­ers 10 re­quired cat­e­gories of care. The bul­letin was in­tended to gar­ner feed­back from the pub­lic. “By is­su­ing a ‘bul­letin’ rather than a pro­posed rule, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has sidestepped the re­quire­ment to pub­lish a cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis es­ti­mat­ing the im­pact these man­dates will have on health in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums and the in­creased costs to the fed­eral govern­ment,” ac­cord­ing to a Jan. 13 let­ter to HHS Sec­re­tary Kath­leen Se­be­lius from House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee Chair­man Dave Camp (R-mich.); House Ed­u­ca­tion and Work­force Com­mit­tee Chair­man John Kline (R-minn.); House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Fred Up­ton (R-mich.); Sen. Michael Enzi (R-wyo.) and Sen. Or­rin Hatch (R-utah). The law­mak­ers said HHS also avoided pub­lish­ing reg­u­la­tory al­ter­na­tives and in­for­ma­tion about un­funded man­dates placed on states and the pri­vate sec­tor, both re­quired un­der the rule­mak­ing process. The let­ter, among other re­quests, asks Se­be­lius to pro­vide a le­gal ra­tio­nale and prece­dents for the move. An HHS of­fi­cial said in an e-mail last month that the depart­ment plans to fol­low the tra­di­tional rule­mak­ing process for es­sen­tial ben­e­fits.

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