Massachusetts Considers Delaying Parts of Health Care Law

By Staff Report

Sep. 22, 2008

Massachusetts regulators in charge of implementing key portions of the state’s health care reform law are considering a delay in rules that impose financial penalties on residents not enrolled in health care plans providing so-called minimum creditable coverage.

In July, the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector Authority, responding to comments that its earlier rules were too rigid and not sufficiently detailed, proposed new rules that would increase the likelihood that mainstream employer plans would pass the minimum-creditable-coverage threshold, keeping employees from being hit with penalties that can amount to more than $900 a year.

The proposed rules also increase the chances that high-deductible health insurance plans linked to health reimbursement arrangements will pass muster while easing requirements on how many annual preventive visits health plans must cover.

But employers and others are seeking additional changes, emphasizing the need to delay the implementation of the new rules to January 1, 2010, saying it would be difficult to revamp benefit plans in time for the current January 1, 2009, effective date.

A spokeswoman for the Connector Authority said there has been discussion of changes to the creditable-coverage rules and delaying the effective date, but final decisions are not expected until next month.

The goal of the health care reform law, passed in 2006, is to move the state close to universal coverage. The law created a state program that subsidizes health insurance premiums of eligible lower-income uninsured residents and established assessments on employers that do not provide health care coverage. It requires most residents to obtain coverage.

Filed by Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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