WASHINGTON BUREAU — The new interim final rules on grandfathered health plans are drawing a relatively mild response.
The U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. Labor Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled the interim final rules Monday.
The rules describe how much a health plan can change without having to comply with all of the group health provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act.
Administration officials predicted that only about half of the health plans that now exist will still have “grandfathered health plan” status in 2013.
Republican House members have asked how President Obama can say he has kept his promise to let Americans keep their health coverage if a majority of group plan members will lose grandfathered status by 2013.
But Alec Valchon, a former Republican Senate staffer who is now a health care consultant, says Obama’s pledge was more aspirational than substantive.
Even now, “there is tremendous turnover in health care plans,” Valchon says.
The market reaction to leaks about the contents of the regulation, and to the release of the new rules, signaled that the new rules “won’t change the insurance business in a material way,” Valchon says.
But the government has imposed new rules that likely will raise employer – and employee – costs without reducing the number of covered lives that health plans must provide for, Valchon says.