Posts Tagged ‘grants’

$4 Million Federal Grant Awarded To Nevada To Analyze, Justify Health Insurance Increases

By Sean Whaley | 4:53 pm September 20th, 2011

CARSON CITY – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced Affordable Care Act grant awards of $3.96 million to Nevada to help fight what she calls unreasonable premium increases.

Today the agency also released a new report entitled Rate Review Works detailing how previous rate review grants are fighting premium hikes and helping make the health insurance marketplace more transparent.

“We’re committed to fighting unreasonable premium increases and we know rate review works,” Sebelius said. “States continue to have the primary responsibility for reviewing insurance rates and these grants give them more resources to hold insurance companies accountable.”

Companies offering health insurance coverage in Nevada could not immediately be reached for comment on the grant award.

Nevada is one of more than two dozen states challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. But until the legal questions are resolved, Gov. Brian Sandoval has said Nevada has to plan for the implementation of the law.

U.S Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

As of Sept. 1, the Affordable Care Act requires health insurers seeking to increase their rates by 10 percent or more in the individual and small group market to submit their request to experts to determine whether the rates are unreasonable. The act also requires insurance companies to publicly justify unreasonable premium rate increases. These provisions will bring greater transparency, accountability, and, in many cases, lower costs for families and small business owners who struggle to afford coverage, the agency said in a news release.

The Affordable Care Act provides states with $250 million in Health Insurance Rate Review Grants, $48 million of which has previously been awarded to 42 states, the District of Columbia and five territories. As outlined in the new report, these grants and other state rate review efforts are already making a difference in Nevada:

- Nevada has added actuarial support that has brought a new expertise to its rate review analyses. From Jan. 1 through March 31, 17 of the 30 rate filings received were disapproved.

- The grant also inspired legislative initiatives to broaden Nevada’s review authority to include small group health plans, the agency said. Assembly Bill 74, signed into law by Sandoval, gives the state Insurance Commissioner authority over rates for small group PPOs.

The agency said the grants awarded today will help to create a more level playing field by improving how states review proposed health insurance rates and holding insurance companies accountable for disclosing information about unjustified rate increases.

Nevada is proposing to use the grant funds in the following ways:

- Expand the scope of rate review: Nevada no longer exempts Group PPOs from filing requirements and Nevada will develop a plan to implement the necessary changes in policy and procedure to add small group rate filings to the rate review process.

- Improve rate filing requirements: Nevada implemented a “zero tolerance” policy as of July 1, requiring insurers to either resubmit an incorrect filing or correct minor errors through post-submission updates.

- Improve transparency and consumer access: Nevada plans to host consumer outreach meetings across the state in late 2011. Nevada will post weekly updates of rate filings under consideration and review on its website within five days of receipt, and links to posted rate filings will remain valid for three years. Nevada will also post rate filings from Aug. 1, 2010 forward and public comments addressing proposed changes on its new website.

- Hire new staff: Nevada will create 3 new positions with the grant funding.

- Improve information technology: Nevada recently launched a website dedicated to the Divisions’ rate review activities. The new site will serve as a primary consumer access point for health benefit plan rate filing information and posting of the Division’s analysis summary upon disposition.



Republican Assemblyman Accuses Democratic Senator Of Hijacking His Bill

By Andrew Doughman | 2:20 pm March 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Freshman Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, watched as one of his first bills was introduced on the floor of the Assembly Tuesday.

Hansen’s bill would establish a state grants coordinator to help Nevada apply for and win more federal grants.

A few hours later, Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, stood at a lectern flanked by the American flag and the flag of the State of Nevada, and told a gathering of reporters about his bill.

Parks’ bill would establish a state grants coordinator to help Nevada apply for and win more federal grants.

The introduction of Hansen’s bill, Assembly Bill 243, was a matter of procedure. Parks delivered his speech under studio lights at a Democratic press conference attended by about a dozen journalists jotting down his words.

Parks’ proposal received press attention whereas Hansen’s bill did not.

“It’s either highly unusual timing or they thought it was a great idea and wanted to capture it for themselves,” Hansen said yesterday.

Parks said he was “totally unaware” of Hansen’s bill before Hansen e-mailed him yesterday.

Hansen said he had submitted his request for a bill November 4, 2010. He said it was an idea from the Sage Commission’s report, an underlined and annotated copy of which he keeps in his office.

He said he received the bill back last Friday and collected signatures from legislators of both parties Monday.

“They’re taking the political credit for it,” he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval had earlier said he would like to establish a grant coordinator for the state.

Parks said he had his idea independently from Hansen.

“We see that sort of thing all the time here,” he said today after a Senate floor session. “There was absolutely nothing deliberate. I did not see that he submitted such a bill draft. …These things happen. As far as I’m concerned, it’s no big deal.”

Parks submitted his bill draft request on Valentine’s Day.

Parks’ bill draft request description states that the bill “makes various changes concerning solicitation and use of grants.”

Hansen’s bill draft request description states that the bill “creates the position of State Grants Coordinator within the Budget Division of the Department of Administration.”

Parks bill, Senate Bill 233, was introduced on the Senate floor today.

Parks said that these sort of duplications happen. He cited one of his own bills that Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, introduced in the Assembly before Parks was able to introduce his.

Parks said that there may be “a little personal hurt” when something like that happens, but he hopes to reconcile Hansen’s bill with his own.

“Presumably, somehow along the way our bills will cross and we’ll work on the concept,” Parks said.