Weekend update

Senator Cardin’s bill (S 3341) which would allow OPM to accelerate the increase in the dependent child eligibility age to 26 regardless of marital status, now has twelve co-sponsors, including Sen. Susan Collins (R Maine), the ranking minority member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to which the bill was referred.

Friday was the Department of Health and Human Services’ (“HHS”) deadline for submission of public comments on implementation of new Public Health Service Act sections 2718 and 2794 (added by PPACA Sections 1001 and 1003). Section 2718 is the minimum medical loss ratio (“MLR”)  provision, and Section 2794 requires HHS and the relevant state to review unreasonable health insurer premium increases. The comments of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”) are available here. The NAIC will be providing further guidance concerning the MLR provision on June 1.

Modern Healthcare reports that healthcare providers who are not subject to any similar limit on their profits and clearly want to bend the cost curve up are urging HHS to clamp down on the health insurers. For example, “the Medical Group Management Association wrote in its comments that HHS should include administrative costs incurred by providers [to bill insurers] as a component of insurers’ administrative costs in defining medical loss ratios.”

I took a gander at reginfo.gov to find out whether any more PPACA regulations, such as the grandfathered plan rule and the lifetime and annual limit rule, are coming down the pike soon. I didn’t find PPACA regulations but I did find that the Office of Management and Budget is reviewing the final HHS notice of security breach rule.  This final rule will reflect HHS’s reaction to comments on the interim final rule issued last August.

Business Insurance notes that HHS, the Labor Department, and the IRS received over 5,400 comments on the February 2, 2010, interim final rule implementing the Wellstone Domenici mental health parity and addiction equity act of 2008.  The article quotes several benefits professionals who are hopeful that the agencies will accept the suggestion made by many organizations (and makes sense to me) that the effective date be delayed by one year.

The HHS Office for Civil Rights, which enforces the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, posted last week guidance on conducting security risk assessments for covered entities and business associates. The risk assessment is a crucial part of HIPAA Security Rule compliance.

HHS and the Justice Department held a press conference last Thursday concerning their efforts to ramp up efforts to fight health care fraud.

Last but not least OPM issued its FedsGetFit virtual cookbook.