Healthcare News January 5, 2012

  • HHS rejects looser insurance rules in two states

    The Health and Human Services Department on Wednesday denied two more states’ requests to soften new rules that govern insurers’ spending.

    HHS denied Kansas’s and Oklahoma’s requests for adjustment to the healthcare law’s medical loss ratio (MLR) provisions. The law requires insurers selling policies to individuals to spend 80 percent of their premiums on medical costs, with the remaining 20 percent for profit and administrative costs.

    HHS has rejected MLR adjustments in eight states and approved them in six.

    Republican governors have asked for adjustments more often than their Democratic counterparts. Of the eight requests HHS has denied, seven came from GOP-led states and one from a Democratic governor. The department has approved requests from four Republicans and two Democrats.

    The healthcare law allows HHS to set an adjusted MLR in states where implementing the 80 percent standard immediately would drive insurers out of the state and undermine consumers’ access to insurance. HHS said it was not convinced that insurers would leave the markets in Oklahoma and Kansas.

    Oklahoma had asked for a 70 percent standard in 2012, which would increase to 75 percent in 2013. All plans in all states must meet an 80 percent MLR by 2014.

    Kansas wanted a 73 percent MLR this year and 76 percent in 2013.

  • Abortion-rights groups keep focus on Romney

    Rick Santorum’s sudden rise, fueled largely by evangelical Republicans, hasn’t knocked abortion-rights groups off of their attacks against Mitt Romney.

    Santorum has a staunchly conservative record on social issues, and his close second-place finish in Iowa on Tuesday was fueled largely by evangelicals. He won 57 percent of the caucus-goers who said abortion was their top issue, according to a Washington Post poll.

    But abortion-rights advocates were quick to attack Romney after the Iowa results were announced.

    “He might have scored points with a very narrow segment of voters in one state, but, if Romney becomes the nominee, he will have to start explaining those views to voters in battleground states during the general election,” NARAL Pro-Choice America said in a statement. “We will make sure that Romney’s extreme views — and his flip-flops on this issue — are a liability.”

    NARAL communications director Ted Miller said the group focused on Romney in part because he was the actual winner. But the group is also concerned that Santorum’s popularity with social conservatives could leave the impression that Romney is more moderate on abortion.

  • News bites: Santorum links ‘ObamaCare’ to fascism

    ThinkProgress has the video of Rick Santorum, in his Iowa concession speech, comparing Medicaid and healthcare reform to the rise of fascism.

    The Washington Post picks out five dates to watch this year in the implementation of President Obama’s healthcare law.

    Florida is still aggressively pressing its case for an adjustment to the healthcare law’s medical loss ratio provisions, LifeHealthPro reports.

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