Health Overhaul Implementation Updates: States Fret, Sebelius Hits The Hill

Politico: In a congressional appearance Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asked lawmakers to move beyond politics and focus on successfully reforming American health care. “If we have a healthier nation, we will have a healthier work force, and that work force will make us more competitive. … It has the potential to drive growth and create jobs or, on the other end, be a job killer,” she said (Kliff, 10/5).

Politico, in a separate story: “Political hostility over the health care law and the potential for turnover in statehouses this November are creating uncertainty for state Medicaid leaders as they prepare for a huge expansion of their programs.” The list of requirements for these state officials include expanding Medicaid to cover adults earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line and setting up new state insurance exchanges (Haberkorn, 10/5).

The Hill: On the plate of other state health officials — the insurance commissioners — is setting up new requirements for insurers. “The health reform law mandates that health plans spend a minimum percentage of premiums on care or pay rebates to their customers. The state insurance commissioners are tasked with defining the ratio.” That process is still underway, but the commissioners’ national organization approved a draft of the regulation Monday (Pecquet, 10/4).

Kaiser Health News: Meanwhile, the law is also expected to contribute to improved mental health coverage. Plans offered through the state exchanges will have to pick up mental health and addiction benefits with the same level of coverage they provide for other problems. That closes a gap left by other mental health parity legislation that took effect this year. That law required equal benefits, but did not require plans to include mental health coverage. Also, “[i]n September, the Department of Health and Human Services announced nearly $100 million in grants under the new Prevention and Public Health Fund” for mental health (Andrews, 10/5).

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