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'Cries for Help' in Deciphering Regulatory Changes

Christopher Cheney, for HealthLeaders Media, March 19, 2014

Payer and provider executives alike are grappling with a nearly crippling level of uncertainty on how regulations and rules will change their business.

"Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing."
—Warren Buffett

How do you run a business in a highly regulated market where the rules are seemingly in a constant state of flux? Health plans across the country are facing this quandary on deadlines that are often measured in days and weeks, not the months and years it takes for most businesses to react effectively to a changing market.

While health plan executives are reluctant to go on the record, I have been inundated with a flood of hushed complaints over the past two months from insurance industry insiders who say they are grappling with a nearly crippling level of uncertainty.

You do not have to look hard to find examples of what they are talking about.

On the new public exchanges for individual health insurance policies, carriers have faced a bewildering maze of business challenges from quarters that are largely beyond their control. Just in the past two months, federal regulators have changed or considered changing key ground rules for the new public exchanges, including the decision to allow individuals to keep insurance policies that do not comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act until fall 2016. For its part, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a 148-page document that included details about proposed Medicare payment rate changes in the fiscal year starting in October.

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1 comments on "'Cries for Help' in Deciphering Regulatory Changes"


Bruce Landes (3/20/2014 at 10:15 PM)
In the Federalist #62 James Madison wrote, in 1788: The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed? Another effect of public instability is the unreasonable advantage it gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious and uniformed mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any way affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest, reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow-citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few, not for the many. In another point of view, great injury results from an unstable government. The want of confidence in the public councils damps every useful undertaking, the success and profit of which may depend on a continuance of existing arrangements. What prudent merchant will hazard his fortunes in any new branch of commerce when he knows not but that his plans may be rendered unlawful before they can be [INVALID]d? What farmer or manufacturer will lay himself out for the encouragement given to any particular cultivation or establishment, when he can have no assurance that his preparatory labors and advances will not render him a victim to an inconstant government? In a word, no great improvement or laudable enterprise can go forward which requires the auspices of a steady system of national policy. But the most deplorable effect of all is that diminution of attachment and reverence which steals into the hearts of the people, towards a political system which betrays so many marks of infirmity, and disappoints so many of their flattering hopes. No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly respectable; nor be truly respectable, without possessing a certain portion of order and stability.