HHS and Treasury Issue Regs on State Innovation Waivers under ACA

March 10, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Treasury have proposed new rules outlining the steps states may pursue in order to receive a State Innovation Waiver under the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act gives states the flexibility to receive a State Innovation Waiver so they may pursue their own strategies to ensure their residents have access to high quality, affordable health insurance.  According to an HHS press release, under the law, State Innovation Waivers are available in 2017, but President Obama supports bipartisan legislation that will make them available in 2014.   

The news release said state Innovation Waivers are designed to allow states to implement policies that differ from those in the Affordable Care Act so long as they: 

  • Provide coverage that is at least as comprehensive as the coverage offered through Health Insurance Exchanges – new competitive, private health insurance marketplaces; 
  • Make coverage at least as affordable as it would have been through the Exchanges; 
  • Provide coverage to at least as many residents as otherwise would have been covered under the Affordable Care Act; and 
  • Do not increase the federal deficit. 


The proposed regulation describes the content of the waiver application and how such proposals may be disclosed to the public, monitored, and evaluated.    

Meanwhile, BLR reports that President Obama, at the National Governors Association Meeting, said he supports the Empowering States to Innovate Act, a bill that amends the Affordable Care Act to allow states to withdraw from certain ACA mandates in 2014 rather than in 2017, as long as they adopt alternative means to meet the reform law’s coverage and cost objectives.  

“If your state can create a plan that covers as many people as affordably and comprehensively as the Affordable Care Act does — without increasing the deficit — you can implement that plan. And we’ll work with you to do it,” the President announced.  

More information is at http://www.HealthCare.gov/news/factsheets/stateinnovation03102011a.html, and text of the new regulations is here.