WASHINGTON (Aug. 18, 2010) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced grants of $1 million each to 45 states and the District of Columbia to improve oversight of health insurance premium rate changes.
States applied for the funding earlier this summer, which was made available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The law allocated $250 million in state grants over five years to target excessive insurance premium rate increases.
States plan to use the $46 million total in this round of grants to:
- Pursue more authority over rate increases;
- Expand their scope of rate review;
- Boost consumer transparency of rates;
- Upgrade technology to improve data sharing; and
- Require insurers to report more information about rate changes.
Fifteen states will use the funding to develop legislation seeking more authority to review and approve premium rate increases. These states include Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana and Utah. Currently, 26 states and the District of Columbia have the authority to reject proposed rate increases.
“We've got a mixed bag around the country,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a media call, adding that the agency will continue to work with states to encourage more rate regulation.
Five states did not apply for funding: Alaska, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Wyoming.
“We will certainly follow up with this handful of folks to see if there are logistical reasons they don't need these resources,” Ms. Sebelius said.
This report appeared in Modern Healthcare magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.