Monday, September 23, 2013

$3.1 million Affordable Care Act grant comes to Kansas to help consumers review insurance rates

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

TOPEKA — Kansas' Republican political leaders continue to voice opposition to the Affordable Care Act, but the federal government continues implementation of the health reform law.

Today, Kansas was awarded $3.1 million in grants under the ACA to help the state keep health insurance rates in line.

The funds will be used to support state efforts to review health insurance rate requests and educate consumers by providing data on different prices charged by health care providers, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Kansas Department of Insurance.

"Strong rate review programs save consumers money, provide more information to the public, and hold insurance companies accountable," said Marilyn Tavenner, CMS Administrator.

"We are pleased that these awards are providing new opportunities to states to shed light on health pricing data so the public can find out more about the prices insurance companies pay for medical procedures, from hip replacements to X-rays," she said.

The grants were part of $67.6 million awarded to 20 states in addition to Kansas.

The ACA requires that insurance companies provide justification for any health insurance premium increase of 10 percent or more. Earlier this year, CMS released information on the prices charged by hospitals cross the country.

In Kansas, the grant will go toward enhancements to a database that collects non-personal information from most insurers about insurance policies they issue and claims they pay, according to the Kansas Department of Insurance. This will help in the rate review process, the agency said.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, a Republican, has focused on implementing the new law, but Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas' congressional delegation, all Republicans, have opposed the ACA.