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Senate Finance Committee ranking minority member Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) is asking the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for detailed information about the waivers from various provisions of the health care reform law issued to employers, labor unions, and other groups.
In a Feb. 8 letter to CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, Hatch said he was concerned about the waiver process used by the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, which recently was moved from another office within the Department of Health and Human Services to CMS.
Hatch said he was “surprised” by an HHS announcement Jan. 26 that 733 waivers have been granted from the annual benefit limits established under the health care law (see previous article).
House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans also have requested such information. Hatch has requested a reply to his letter by Feb. 28.
Hatch said the waiver process “obviously stands in stark contrast to the Administration's claims about the value of [the reform law] in reducing costs and making health care more affordable.”
“My home state of Utah has numerous small businesses and I have heard from many of them asking why they were not able to get waivers like the 700 plus entities who were able to receive them,” Hatch said.
“Many of these businesses had not even heard there was a waiver process. They are concerned that these requirements under the new law are substantially increasing their overall costs and for which having the option of a waiver could mean the difference between their staying financially viable or being forced to close their doors.”
Among other requests, Hatch asked for a complete list of all entities that have been granted waivers, except for documents on the first 222, information on which has already been requested by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Hatch also is seeking a detailed explanation of the waiver process, including “all internal policies and procedures and other guidance documents” used by CCIIO.
Hatch also is seeking information on what processes CMS will be implementing to ensure CCIIO is following the appropriate protocols for waiver approval.
The letter is available in HealthDocs™.
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