Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are now plowing through more than 3,000 comments from members of the public ideas who think they have good ways to improve Affordable Care Act health insurance rules and programs.
CMS is the arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in charge of managing Affordable Care Act insurance rules and programs. Seema Verma, the CMS administrator, put out a request for ideas for improving the current health insurance framework in June. The comment period ended Wednesday.
Members of Congress are trying to change the Affordable Care Act. At this point, however, it’s not clear whether lawmakers can get enough votes to make big changes in the law. CMS, other federal agencies and Congress may have to turn to doing what they can to fix and improve the current system.
Many commenters sent in ideas that are really pleas for the government to give them more help, or ideas that would could lead to obvious new health insurance market stability problems, such as rules that would make the current loose enrollment rules even looser.
More than two dozen of the comments appear to be from agents, brokers, other types of benefits advisors, or producer groups.
Here’s a sampling of five ideas from producer and producer group comments. We found the comments by searching through all comments for the terms “agent” and “broker”; producers who failed to identify themselves as such in the text of their comments may not have showed up in our results.
We looked for comments that seemed as if they might be possible to implement without congressional action.
We are calling these “top comments” because they included interesting, concrete suggestions and came up near the top of our search results. Clearly, opinions about what the best suggestions might be are likely to vary.
You can find more comments here.
1. Set a national essential health benefits package standard.
CMS has been letting each state set its own Affordable Care Act essential health benefits package standard. Issuers are supposed to use the EHB package to show how much value their plans provide, and help consumers shop for coverage on an apples-to-apples basis.
Some of the big state-level fights have been over how plans should cover expensive services such as intensive therapy for children with autism.
Paul Dougherty, president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, said in a comment letter that NAIFA thinks setting a national EHB package would be better than leaving package decisions up to states. A national standard “may incentivze states to reconsider state laws or regulations which impose costly benefit mandates and increase insurance premiums,” Dougherty writes.
2. Start HealthCare.gov agent training earlier.
CMS has been starting the open enrollment period at HealthCare.gov, the federal Affordable Care Act exchange enrollment and account administration system, Nov. 1.