Author Archives: Reeve Conover

Obmacare back in the courts

Three pending lawsuits have the potential to directly affect health plans and the individuals we serve:

    • Texas v. U.S.: As we have reported, 20 states’ Attorneys General have alleged Congress’s repeal of the individual mandate effective as of 2019 means the remainder of the ACA is unconstitutional. The Court heard oral arguments earlier this month and is expected to issue its decision soon. A countersuitrecently filed by Maryland’s Attorney General attempts to confirm the law’s constitutionality by directly addressing the issues arising in the Texas case.

 

    • The Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) v. U.S.: On September 14, seven health care industry and advocacy groups filed suit in a federal district court seeking to undo the Trump Administration’s short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI) regulation finalized earlier this summer. The suit alleges the rule, which expands the time an individual may be enrolled in an STLDI plan from three months to just under three years, unlawfully undoes many of the law’s requirements.

 

  • Texas v. U.S.: Another suit filed by the Texas Attorney General and six other states seeks recovery of funds paid to Medicaid health plans to account for their portion of the ACA’s Health Insurance Fee (also known as the Health Insurance Tax or HIT). The court ruled in the states’ favor in August. Additional motions have since been filed addressing how and when the states would receive relief. The court is expected to rule on these issues shortly.

Judge says U.S. is on the hook for Obamacare subsidies for insurers

The federal government had a clear obligation to reimburse insurers for assistance provided to low-income people under the Affordable Care Act, a federal judge says.
By ROBERT PEAR / The New York Times
A federal court ruled this month that a Montana insurer is entitled to federal compensation for subsidy payments under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that President Donald Trump abruptly ended in October, a ruling that could reverberate through insurance markets and cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars.
At issue are payments for cost-sharing reductions, discounts that enhance the value of health-insurance policies purchased from the ACA’s marketplaces by reducing deductibles, co-payments and other out-of-pocket costs for low-income consumers. Trump ended the payments in October, one of a series of executive actions intended to undo President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.
But Judge Elaine Kaplan of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled this month that Trump’s actions violated a government promise to insurance companies participating in the health law. Although Congress never explicitly provided money for the subsidies, the court said, the government had a legal obligation to pay them.
The decision could have broad ramifications for health insurers. Several similar cases are pending in the Court of Federal Claims, a specialized tribunal that handles a wide range of monetary claims against the government. In April, another judge, Margaret Sweeney, certified a class action that allows insurers as a group to sue the government over Trump’s termination of the cost-sharing payments.

DPO Approves CINGA-Express Scripts Merger

The action brings together a major health insurer and a pharmacy benefit manager that some analysts say should help control costs by merging drug and medical benefits management.

To date, Cigna and Express Scripts have obtained clearances from departments of insurance in 16 states. The companies are working constructively with regulators in the remaining jurisdictions to obtain clearance for the merger. Cigna and Express Scripts continue to anticipate that the deal will close by year-end 2018, subject to the satisfaction of all closing conditions.

Part D Prescription plan changes

On Thursday, August 30, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued two guidance documents to provide clarification to plans participating in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.

  • Step therapy and Part B drugs: CMS recently announced Part D plans would be permitted to establish “step therapy” programs for Part B drugs starting in 2019. However, CMS’s announcement raised many questions for Part D plans considering participation in this program in 2019. A new Q&A attempts to answer those questions.
  • Indication-based formularies: CMS also released separate guidance that permits Part D plans to develop “indication-based” formularies starting in 2020. Many medications have multiple uses. However, Medicare rules currently require Part D plans to cover a prescription drug without differentiating the conditions for which it is most appropriate. The new rules would change that starting in 2020.

These guidance documents reflect the Trump Administration’s continued interest in reducing prescription drug costs. We expect CMS to announce additional actions in the next several weeks.

Are you getting money back from your Medical Carrier?

Its rebate time in New York. Under the MLR Rules of the Affordable Care act,  Carriers have to return “excess” premiums received.

Oxford- Large Group Rebate only

United Healthcare- Large Group Rebate only

Horizon- no rebate for large groups

Aetna-right now the word is no rebate in NY and NJ large, although they said most likely there will be rebates in small group NY and NJ

Cigna- no rebates

Emblem- no rebates

Empire- no rebates

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Reeve Conover is a Registered Representative. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/dealer member FINRA/SPIC. Cambridge and Conover Consulting are not affiliated. Licensed in SC, NC, NY, CT, NJ, and CA.
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