Hatch, Camp Demand More Information on Waiver Denials From HHS

May 25, 2011 – 4:17 p.m.

By Jane Norman, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

Two Republicans have written Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying there has not been enough transparency when it comes to waivers from the health care law the agency has granted to companies, labor unions and other groups.
House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan and Sen. Orrin G. Hatchof Utah said they want to know why HHS won’t disclose the identities of those who were denied waivers or the reasons why.
They also said HHS hasn’t distributed enough information about the availability of waivers and that small businesses say they are unaware such waivers are available. More “meaningful outreach” is needed, they wrote.
“It should be clear and publicly available which entities have to comply with the burdensome and costly requirements of the new health care law and which are receiving a temporary reprieve because they were aware of and navigated the waiver process,” wrote Hatch and Camp. “Accordingly, please indicate to us which entities have been denied a waiver and on what specific grounds.”
They also asked if there are additional waivers that have not yet been disclosed by HHS.
The Obama administration has granted more than 1,370 requests for waivers from the law’s (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) mandate that health plans offer at least $750,000 in coverage for policies written between Sept. 23, 2010, when the law’s rules first went into effect, and Sept. 22, 2011. Those annual limits are supposed to rise to $1.25 million for policies that begin after Sept. 23, 2011.
Steven B. Larsen, deputy administrator and director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, the agency at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that oversees the waivers, refused to answer questions about the Hatch-Camp letter Wednesday following his appearance at a congressional hearing.
Click here to read the letter.