CMS Uses Regulatory Levers to Chip Away at Affordable Care Act Protections

On Monday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released (1) the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2019 final rule (“Final Rule”), (2) the Final Annual Issuer Letter and (3) guidance on hardship exemptions and transitional policies. Some of the more significant developments contained in the documents released by CMS are as follows: Additional Options for “Benchmark” Plans:Under the Final Rule, for 2020 plan years and beyond, states will be able to select their Essential Health Benefit (“EHB”) benchmark plan from one of the 50 EHB-benchmark plans that other states used for the 2017 plan year. Alternatively, states will have the option of crafting a custom set of benefits to become its EHB-benchmark plan. This development will greatly expand the number of options states have to choose from when selecting their EHB-benchmark plans. New Hardship Exemptions: CMS issued new guidance expanding hardship…

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