BOSTON – Today, the Division of Insurance (DOI) held a public comment session on its review of state regulations, as directed by Governor Baker through Executive Order 562 in March of this year. The order has raised serious concerns from consumer advocates and policy leaders throughout the Commonwealth. Crucial health care regulations under review play a vital role in protecting Massachusetts consumers, and Health Care For All (HCFA) has urged the DOI to exercise caution. Regulations up for review include those related to insurance coverage requirements, consumer disclosures, health plan appeals, rate review, price transparency, and mental health parity.
“Health insurance regulations are essential to protecting public health and the welfare of some of the most vulnerable people throughout the state. These provisions should be reviewed and evaluated with the most transparent process possible,” said Executive Director Amy Whitcomb Slemmer. “Widespread changes could place undue burdens on consumers and we urge the Division of Insurance to continue with the implementation of laws which are vital to protecting Massachusetts consumers.”
In his March Executive Order, Governor Baker laid out specific criteria that regulations would need to meet, including a requirement that state regulation ‘not exceed federal requirements.’
“This is troubling,” said HCFA’s Senior Health Policy Manager Alyssa Vangeli. “It violates a key principle of our federal system in which states are encouraged and expected to go beyond federal minimums. In many cases, regulations exceed federal requirements because state law is more protective than federal laws. This reflects the will of the people of the Commonwealth as expressed by our Legislature.”
Massachusetts has a long history of enacting stronger and more protective health care laws that have gone on to serve as a model for federal laws.
“The Affordable Care Act was modeled in large part on the work of the Commonwealth’s DOI staff done for the Massachusetts Health Reform law of 2006. The groundbreaking efforts in the ensuing years have formed the basis for federal policies that have resulted in expanded health coverage for millions of previously uninsured Americans” said Vangeli.
“Rolling back state regulations of this nature would set the Commonwealth back in its efforts to find new and innovative ways to improve our health care delivery system and manage growing costs.”