Obama administration efforts to get major health law programs running are drawing praise from an agent group but a cold shoulder from some state regulators.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has said it will ease a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act public exchange enrollment rule that had caused problems for brokers.
CMS has been letting brokers sell federal exchange plans, but it required middle-income consumers who wanted to get the new PPACA health insurance premium tax credits to apply for coverage through HealthCare.gov.
CMS will now let consumers who enroll through exchange-certified agents and brokers qualify for tax credits, even if the consumers don’t apply for coverage through HealthCare.gov.
John Nichols, president of the National Association of Insurance and Advisors, welcomed the change.
“This is an important fix that will allow consumers greater flexibility,” Nichols said.
PPACA enrollment efforts at some state-based exchanges are starting to get good press. The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that enrollment is starting to surge in some states.
But the Obama administration created controversy in another area last week, when it encouraged states to let individual and small-group policies that fail to meet PPACA standards that take effect in 2014 stay in force for at least one more year.
State insurance commissioners have split on whether they should even participate in a conference call with President Obama on the topic.
Jim Donelon, the Louisiana commissioner and president of the NAIC, has agreed to participate, as have the commissioners from Connecticut and North Carolina. But the commissioners from North Dakota and Kansas have made a point of refusing to participate. Others have said they want to talk about the topic with their colleagues before meeting with the president.
Regulators, pricing actuaries and others also have been expressing alarm about remarks that Henry Chao, a CMS technology manager, made at a House Energy & Commerce subcommittee HealthCare.gov data security hearing Tuesday. Chao testified that CMS is still completing work on about 30 percent of the HealthCare.gov information systems, including the payment system.