The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed several new waiver rules that will give states more control of their own health care systems and regulations. Backed by the Obama administration, the waivers will provide states with more flexibility. If the proposal is successful, states will have more freedom in creating their own systems that will support federally mandates health insurance exchanges.
Additional legislation is being proposed to make the waivers available by 2014 instead of 2017.
States may apply for “Innovation Waivers” that will allow them to come up with their own system of tax credits, and the ability to change the levels of health plans offered by insurers. The state must ensure that coverage meets the standards of the exchanges, however, and prove that it is at least as affordable as policies provided therein.
Last week, more than 120 new waivers were awarded to insurance companies, bringing the national total to 1,040. These insurers have received a one-year waiver from coverage limits established in the Affordable Care Act. A number of these companies will provide limited yearly coverage. While the waivers are mostly held by insurance companies, corporations such as McDonald’s Corp. have also received them.
A number of lawmakers want to see the offer of waivers extended to consumers and not just companies. Currently, there is only one waiver that is available to consumers, called a hardship waiver. This will exempt the recipient from paying penalties for being uninsured.
Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan says that “If McDonald’s gets a waiver, shouldn’t the average person get one too?”
The new waiver rules are still under debate. A decision will likely be reached within the coming months.