The Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee will hold a hearing this Wednesday on limited benefit coverage, sometimes also known as “mini-med” coverage. These benefits – most often seen in industries with low profit margins and with lower income workers – have been in the news lately because of certain problems created by the new health law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010.
There are many problems with PPACA – none the least of which is the employer mandate – but the limited benefit coverage has been one of first threatened casualties of the law. NRF has been working closely with the Obama Administration to protect this coverage – and have only positive things to say about their efforts so far. The Obama Administration created a fair process for waivers from restrictions on annual benefit limits and set forward a methodology to help these plans meet new medical loss ratio (MLR) standards in 2011. We appreciate the Administration’s help on this coverage.
So, what will we hear from the Administration during the hearing? Apparently they have not even been invited to testify! Instead, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the committee, will seek to drive this coverage out of the marketplace, despite the Administration’s best efforts to protect it.
1.4 million Americans stand to lose their coverage if Sen. Rockefeller gets his way and applies the full MLR standards to limited benefit coverage. There is not an affordable substitute in the insurance market today nor can the hard-pressed state Medicaid rolls take on these newly uninsured Americans. They will be forced to wait for new coverage options available under PPACA in 2014.
We hope the Senate Commerce Committee will take a kinder look at limited benefit coverage tomorrow … and join NRF and the Obama Administration in safeguarding coverage. We have shared these sentiments with the committee in a letter.