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Is HHS Compromising with Insurers?

Jeff Elliott for HealthLeaders Media, October 20, 2010

I'm not sure HHS' statement that health insurers reneged on a "previous commitment make in a March letter to 'make preexisting condition exclusion a thing of the past" is truly accurate.  After all, by dropping child-only policies, health plans were basically forfeiting a game they considered unwinnable.

But the letter was obviously meant to encourage insurers to reconsider child-only coverage, and perhaps make a good faith effort to ensure health plans that HHS wasn't trying to bankrupt them.

For its part, the insurance industry—via Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)—issued a typically dramatic statement—essentially indicating that the provisions have now allowed millions of children to receive access to affordable healthcare coverage.

So are HHS and health insurers now on the same page? They're getting closer, perhaps. But both are still at the mercy of the states. In issuing clarifications that do not preclude regulations already in place—many that just recently emerged when insurers began dropping child only policies—HHS has effectively punted oversight back to the states, at least until healthcare reform officially gets its teeth in 2014.

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