Huffington Post: By Gary Puckrein — 01/08/2013
The Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of finalizing the federal standards that will guide states in defining the minimum essential health benefits that all healthcare insurance plans participating in the state-based health insurance exchanges will be required to provide. The comment period on the proposed rulesbegan on Nov. 26 and ended on Dec. 26 — the day after Christmas. Yes. A disturbingly inconvenient deadline following a relatively short comment period for such a critical rule (myriad touted comments to the Dec. 16, 2011 bulletin notwithstanding). Public comment time frames that do a disservice to the transparency and public engagement that the administration claims to value are barriers to that which it purports to enable — public comment.
Before HHS issues final essential health benefits regulations that will encourage drug formularies, the Secretary must consider the essential health needs of our heterogeneous American general population. Creating administrative structures that support access to quality health care for all of us demands a range of therapeutic and pharmaceutical options that cannot be served by anachronistic approaches to cost and utilization management.
During the run-up to the recent election, President Obama’s supporters constantly stressed the need to raise taxes on the one-percent to rescue us from the fiscal cliff. But a wedge issue that stirred more passion in that election was whether to sustain or repeal the Affordable Health Care Act. Obamacare is now settled law and public policy — tested in the courts; codified by the vote of the American people. Read more