Can Self-Insured State and Local Governmental Plans Still Opt Out of Complying With Certain Group Health Plan Mandates?

Can Self-Insured State and Local Governmental Plans Still Opt Out of Complying With Certain Group Health Plan Mandates?

QUESTION: Is an opt-out election still available to exempt self-insured state and local governmental plans from compliance obligations under certain group health plan mandates?

ANSWER: Originally, self-insured group health plans of state and local governments could opt out of a wide range of group health plan mandates, including certain HIPAA portability requirements (e.g., special enrollment periods and health status nondiscrimination), the mental health parity rules, standards related to newborns and mothers, reconstructive surgery following mastectomies, and coverage for dependent students on medically necessary leaves of absence (Michelle’s Law). The opt-out right has since been eliminated for certain group health plan mandates, but it is still available for others.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) eliminated the ability of self-insured plans of state and local governments to opt out of the HIPAA portability requirements for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010. And the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 eliminated the election to opt out of compliance with the mental health parity requirements as of December 29, 2022. (No new mental health parity opt-out elections may be made on or after that date, and elections expiring on or after June 27, 2023, may not be renewed. Limited extensions are available for plans subject to multiple collective bargaining agreements.) Still, the opt-out election remains available with respect to three other group health plan mandates: standards related to newborns and mothers, reconstructive surgery following mastectomies, and Michelle’s Law (now obsolete for most plans due to the ACA’s requirement to cover dependent children to age 26). Detailed election and notification requirements apply for plans wishing to rely on the opt-out.

Source: Thomson Reuters

Can Self-Insured State and Local Governmental Plans Still Opt Out of Complying With Certain Group Health Plan Mandates?

HHS Proposes HIPAA Standards for Electronic Health Care Claims Attachments 

HHS has proposed regulations that would adopt a set of standards for the electronic exchange of clinical and administrative data to support prior authorizations and health care claims adjudication. As background, HIPAA requires that covered entities (and their business associates) comply with rules designed to standardize the format and content of specified electronic transactions. Specifically, the proposed regulations would adopt standards for “health care attachments” transactions that would support both health care claims and prior authorization transactions, along with a standard for electronic signatures. Regulations proposed in September 2005 would have adopted certain standards for health care attachments but were never finalized. 

Explaining that the prior regulations were not finalized due to comments about the standards’ “lack of technical maturity and stakeholders’ lack of readiness to implement electronic capture of clinical data,” the preamble to the new proposed regulations notes that despite the subsequent widespread deployment of electronic health records and greater industry experience with the HIPAA standards, transmitting health care attachments is still primarily a manual process. The preamble provides detailed information about the organizations responsible for developing and maintaining the transactions standards and advises that the timing for implementation is right because the industry consensus-based standards are now mature, and covered entities are ready to implement them. The regulations do not propose to adopt attachments standards for all health care transaction business needs. Instead, the approach is for covered entities to gain experience with several standard electronic attachment types so that technical and business issues can be identified to inform potential future rulemaking for other electronic attachments standards. 

Source: Thomson Reuters

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