HHS finalizes ACA non-discrimination rules

 

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), finalized rules in the Federal Register on non-discrimination under federally-funded health care programs and activities. The final rules implement section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which broadly prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, in order to advance health care equity and reduce health care disparities. The final rules reflect OCR’s evaluation of 24,875 public comments on proposed rules that were published on September 8, 2015. [More]

 

Supreme Court returns ACA contraceptive cases to lower courts in hope of compromise resolution

 

In an opinion issued on May 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court remanded to the lower courts challenges by a number of nonprofit religious organizations to the contraceptive coverage requirement contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Without expressing any “view on the merits of the case,” the Supreme Court vacated and sent back the cases to the Courts of Appeal indicating the possibility of the parties reaching a compromise, based upon supplemental briefs that were ordered to be submitted. The action was viewed as an attempt to avoid a 4-4 split decision by the Supreme Court, which would result in different outcomes in different states. [More]

 

U.S. District Court Judge rules in favor of the House against Administration’s funding of subsidies under the ACA

 

On May 12, 2016, Federal District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the District of Columbia District ruled in favor of the House of Representatives in its challenge against the Obama administration’s funding of subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Judge Collyer ruled that Congress had not provided specific authority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund the subsidies provided under section 1402 of the ACA, which are intended to assist low-income individuals to pay for insurance premiums for coverage acquired under the exchanges. [More]

 

CMS extends Texas’ 1115 Medicaid waiver program for 15 months

 

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has agreed to grant the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) a 15 month extension through December 2017 of its section 1115 Medicaid waiver program. The waiver relates to the state’s Uncompensated Care and Delivery System Reform Incentive Program (DSRP) and will continue existing program funding levels. [More]

 

HHS issues report on behavioral health benefits of Medicaid expansion

 

On March 28, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) issued a report entitled, “Benefits of Medicaid Expansion for Behavioral Health.” The report estimates that about 1.9 million low-income uninsured persons with mental illness or substance use disorders live in states that have not yet expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). [More]

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Supreme Court requests supplemental briefs in contraceptive case

 

On March 30, 2016, the Supreme Court garnered extensive media coverage after making what is described as an “unusual” request for supplemental briefs in the challenge to the contraceptive mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). [More]

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CBO revises U.S. health care budget estimates

 

On March 24, 2016, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report entitled, “Federal Subsidies for Health Insurance Coverage for People under Age 65: 2016 to 2026.” The CBO report shows that the net costs of all Federal subsidies, taxes, and penalties related to health insurance coverage, for persons under age 65, will be $660 billion in 2016 (3.6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product). [More]

 

Supreme Court set to hear oral argument on cases challenging ACA’s contraceptive mandate

 

On March 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral argument on a set of seven cases challenging the mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that employers provide contraceptive services to their female employees. Two years before, in the case of Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, the Court decided (following a five to four vote) that the Federal government could not impose the mandate upon religiously objecting owners of closely held businesses. [More]

 

HHS releases report on growth in national health care spending

 

On March 22, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) released a report showing that overall health care spending per person in the United States grew at a 4.3 percent rate in 2014. HHS indicates that the increase was largely the result of coverage expansions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and pent-up needs for care among previously uninsured and underinsured persons. [More]

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HHS releases report on results of ACA’s third open enrollment period

 

On March 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) released a report detailing the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) third open enrollment period numbers. From November 1, 2015 through February 1, 2016, 12,681,874 people enrolled in qualified health plans (QHPs) offered through Federally-facilitated Exchanges (FFEs) and State-based Exchanges (SBEs): 7,794,848 (61 percent) were re-enrollees and 4,887,026 (39 percent) new enrollees. The report shows that, FFEs accounted for the majority (76 percent) of all enrollees; about 68 percent of all enrollees selected “silver” level coverage (medium cost-sharing); and 83 percent qualified for advance premium tax credits (APTCs). [More]