Friday, January 13, 2012

SPEAK UP: Comments Wanted by Feds
Insurance Commissioner Nickel Opposes Possible $13 Million Consumer Rebates
At the end of October, Wisconsin's Commissioner of Insurance Ted Nickel sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, seeking an exemption from the federal law that requires health insurers to spend at least 80 cents of every dollar collected in customers' premiums on medical care. Commissioner Nickel said in his letter that he would rather see a gradual "phasing in" of the medical loss ratio requirement. Under the health reform law establishing this "medical loss ratio," the rule is that insurers who fail to meet the 80% minimum would have to provide rebates to their customers. Commissioner Nickel said he would prefer the money, estimated to be about $14 million in rebates to Wisconsin consumers under the law, was instead retained by the insurance companies.HealthWatch Wisconsin covered the story here.  
On January 9, 2012, the feds sent a letter back to Commissioner Nickel. The Department of Health and Human Services Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (HHS) had several questions for Nickel, asking him to provide support on the numerous claims he made in his request. They asked Nickel in more than one instance to explain his math as the feds could not derive the same numbers as Nickel. They asked him to provide withdrawal notices of the companies Nickel said were leaving the Wisconsin marketplace. In what will most likely be construed as a mighty blow, they very kindly thanked Nickel for “Wisconsin’s cooperation in working together to implement the Affordable Care Act.” In fact, Wisconsin is delinquent in implementing health reform, thanks most recently to an emergency rule promulgated by Commissioner Nickel that prevents federally required changes to independent review.
CLICK HERE to keep reading and learn how to comment to the feds on Wisconsin's MLR Waiver.

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