Obama administration issues long-awaited mental health parity regulations

November 08, 2013 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Today the Obama administration released final regulations implementing the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). The MHPAEA is designed to make sure mental health and substance use disorder benefits offered by health plans are in parity with the medical and surgical benefits the plans offer.

The new regulations have been highly anticipated since Congress passed the MHPAEA in October 2008. The law amended and expanded a variety of previously enacted parity provisions in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), and the Internal Revenue Code. In February 2010, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly issued interim final regulations to aid employers and group health insurers in implementing the MHPAEA’s requirements.

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Walgreens to provide employees with healthcare subsidy while ACA public exchange deadline looms

September 18, 2013 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

Walgreens has announced it will provide eligible employees with employer-sponsored health insurance coverage in 2014 through its proprietary “Live Well Benefits Store,” a marketplace that is an outsourced solution through Aon Hewitt Corporate Health Exchange.

The new program allows Walgreens to continue offering health insurance and wellness benefits to its employees as the plan administrator while providing tools and resources that help employees personalize coverage for themselves and their dependents.

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Obama administration delays another ACA provision

August 13, 2013 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 0 COMMENTS

The Obama administration has delayed another Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision. The administration has postponed a consumer protection provision that limits out-of-pocket costs until 2015. Under the provision, the limit on out-of-pocket costs was not to exceed $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family.

According to the New York Times, the one-year grace period was announced in February on the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) website in guidance titled “FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation Part XII.” However, the language outlining the grace period largely flew under the radar until DOL officials recently confirmed what the language means.

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New regulations change details on workplace wellness programs

May 30, 2013 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

Final rules from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on employment-based wellness programs raise the maximum reward that may be offered by certain wellness programs and expand nondiscrimination protections for sick employees.

The final rules under President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were issued May 29 and will be effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014.

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HIPAA final regulations take effect March 26

March 18, 2013 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The long-awaited final Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in January become effective on March 26. According to the HHS, the regulations represent “the most sweeping changes to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules since they were first implemented.” The regulations are based on changes under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

New provisions

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HHS relaxes state insurance exchange decision deadlines

November 12, 2012 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires states to establish health insurance exchanges to provide individuals and small employers with access to affordable insurance coverage beginning January 1, 2014. States have the flexibility to design and operate exchanges that best meet their needs while complying with the ACA’s statutory and regulatory standards. A state that chooses to establish its own exchange or participate in a partnership model must complete and submit an exchange blueprint that documents how it will meet all the legal and operational standards. A state also must demonstrate operational readiness to carry out exchange activities as part of its exchange blueprint.

Decisions on whether to establish a state exchange and blueprint submissions are due to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by November 16, 2012. Although states still must inform the HHS if they plan to establish an exchange by that date, the agency has extended the date for submitting blueprints to December 14, 2012. If those deadlines aren’t met, the HHS will implement a federally facilitated exchange for the states and perform exchange activities.

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Up to $3,000 in Monthly Premiums! Why Long-Term-Care Insurance Plan Failed

October 20, 2011 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 0 COMMENTS

The Obama administration’s health care reform legislation suffered an apparent casualty last week when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicated it wouldn’t pursue implementation of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program (also known as the CLASS Act). In a letter to the U.S. Congress about the CLASS Act, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated that she did “not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time.” Sebelius came to this conclusion after the HHS reviewed a comprehensive analysis of the CLASS program.

The CLASS Act was a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that was designed to create better long-term-care insurance options for individuals. According to the law, all CLASS benefits had to be completely funded through enrollee premiums without any taxpayer subsidy. The legislation also mandated that the program must be actuarially sound and financially solvent for 75 years.

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HHS Approves Almost 2,000 Early Retiree Reinsurance Program Applications

September 21, 2010 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced that almost 2,000 employers were accepted into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program created by the health care reform legislation. These employers will start receiving reimbursements for employee claims from the program this fall.

The approved applicants represent the broad spectrum of the economy, including businesses (32 percent), state and local governments (26 percent), union sponsors (22 percent), schools and other educational institutions (14 percent), and nonprofits (five percent).

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Mental Health Parity Regulations Now Available

February 17, 2010 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services, and the Treasury recently published interim final regulations in the Federal Register that implement the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). These regulations are effective April 5, 2010, and apply to plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2010.

The MHPAEA applies to most employers with more than 50 employees and requires those that offer mental health or substance use disorder benefits to make sure they’re in parity with the medical and surgical benefits they offer. The departments issued the regulations to further clarify the MHPAEA, and the regulations are supposed to update certain defined terms and examples and demonstrate how the expanded rules apply.

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Health Plan Developments: Mental Health Parity, GINA, and Health Risk Assessments

October 23, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

By Michelle Sullivan, Holland & Hart LLP

Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, issued a statement on October 2 indicating that employers awaiting guidance before implementing changes to medical plans required by the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 should not expect regulations to be issued until January 2010 — after the law goes into effect for calendar-year plans. In the absence of regulations, plan sponsors should make a reasonable “good-faith” effort to adhere to the law’s intent.

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