nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Health Care Reform Waiver Lottery: Now Entire States Enter The Game

The state of Maine received a waiver from a key provision of the HCR law.  Other states have similar requests in the pipeline.

I read in The Hill yesterday that as of last week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has granted 1040 waivers to organizations that say they are unable to meet the minimum coverage requirements.  By contrast only about 50 waiver requests have been denied.  This is another effort to postpone the toxic effects of the law; the last several months have seen numerous efforts to delay requirements until after the 2012 elections to minimize disruption that could cost an election.  See here on the delay in W-2 reporting that was required in the law; and recall the delay announced in shrinking Medicare Advantage programs and HSA accounts.

Maine received a waiver from the requirement that insurers spend almost all their revenue for actual health care services (as opposed to running the business, administrative costs, and--presumably--executive bonuses).

Allegations are that some of the waivers are politically motivated.  That is, the Administration is favoring unions and other political supporters.  I haven't seen any data that supports that yet; although one report said that Service Employees International Union (SEIU) received one of these waivers.  HHS claims that the waivers are primarily going to small insurers, but SEIU is one of the biggest unions in the country.

Recall that SEIU and others who have so-called "Cadillac" health care plans received an exemption under the law (until 2018?) from paying the tax on high-end, covering-everything type plans.

Political maneuvering that favors some groups over others just fuels further disgust with the whole process, and sustains the high disapproval ratings that pollsters continue to see when surveying health care reform.

I read elsewhere today that the number of doctors who are opting out of Medicare in my state (TX) is continuing to grow.  Maybe I should put a couple of counters on the website, so readers can monitor the growth of things like waivers and opt-outs.  I'll think about it.

The other states seeking a minimum coverage waiver are Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Nevada (isn't that Harry Reid's state?)

Doc D

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