New Regulations & Court Decisions Require Health Plan Claims & Appeal Updates & Strengthening

Register Now For 8/24  Health Plan Update Briefing

Employer and other health plan sponsors, insurers, fiduciaries and administrators should move quickly to review, update and tighten their plan documents, administrative procedures and agreements, decisional criteria, investigation and decision-making documentation, and claims and appeals-related notification and other communications in response to new requirements and guidance in recently proposed Labor Department Regulations and the increased willingness of Federal courts to scrutinize and overturn benefit denials.

New regulations (ACA Appeals Rules) implementing tighter health plan claims and appeals rules enacted under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) are the latest in a wave of new Affordable Care Act and other federal regulations that require quick updates to employment-based health plans. 

The new ACA Appeals rules published July 23, 2010 primarily focus on additional claims and appeals standards that group health plans not “grandfathered” under the Affordable Care Act must meet by the first plan year beginning after September 22, 2010.  However, clarifications of the Labor Department’s interpretation of existing claims and appeals rules for employment-based group health plans shared with the ACA Appeals Rules make clear grandfathered plans also have work to do. Therefore, group health plan sponsors, insurers, fiduciaries and administrators of all group health plans should review and tighten their claims and appeals procedures in response to the guidance recently published in connection with the ACA Appeals Rules.

Beyond responding to the Labor Department’s ACA Appeals Rules, employer and other health and employee benefit plan sponsors, insurers, fiduciaries and administrators also should consider tightening and strengthening their claims and appeals decision-making, documentation and notice processes and procedures to reduce the risk that the courts will overturn benefit denials to guard against the growing willingness of federal courts to overturn benefit denials based upon  their findings of process, documentation, notification, conflict of interest or other deficiencies that make the decision “arbitrary or capricious” or otherwise unsustainable under ERISA.  Read more.

For assistance to review and update your health or other employee benefit claims and appeals or other terms, processes, notices and communication or other processes and procedures, please contact the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or

Many Other Changing Federal Rules Require Other Plan Updates

Changing claims and appeals standards are only a small part of the sweeping range of developments that employer and other plan sponsors, administrators, and fiduciaries of group health plans must deal with as the struggle to design and administer legally defensible plans this year.

The new ACA Appeals Rules are the latest in a wave of new Affordable Care Act and other federal regulations that require quick action by employment based health plans, their employer and other sponsors, fiduciaries, administrators and insurers.  Regulations issued in previous weeks define when health plans and health insurance policies qualify as “grandfathered” under the Affordable Care Act and interpret and implement many other federal health plan rule changes enacted by the Affordable Care Act. 

All employer and other group health plan sponsors, fiduciaries, insurers and administrators should be prepared to act quickly to update their health plan documents, communications, insurance and vendor agreements and other practices to comply with new federal requirements that become effective under the Affordable Care Act on the first day of the plan year beginning after September 22, 2010 and various other changes in federal health plan rules effective or scheduled to take effect during 2010 or 2011 plan years.  Many plan sponsors also may need to act quickly to cancel or revise certain design or vendor changes planned or already implemented since March 23, 2010 to position their health plan to qualify for grandfather status.  Quick action also may be needed to preserve options to claim small employer tax credits, retiree medical subsidies or other opportunities. 

In addition to responding to these Affordable Care Act changes, most group health plans also will require updates in response to other federal health plan rule changes beyond those enacted under the Affordable Care Act. These Affordable Care Act and other impending federal health plan changes will require employment-based group health plans, their employer and other plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, plan administrators and other service providers and insurers to make quick decisions and to act quickly to meet impending federal compliance deadlines while preserving flexibility and managing costs.

August 24  “2010 Health Plan Update” Internet Workshop Provides Key Information

Solutions Law Press invites you to catch up on the latest guidance about the new group health plan Affordable Care Act and other federal health plan regulations by participating in a live “2010 Health Plan Update” internet broadcast briefing on Tuesday, August 24 2010.  The briefing will be conducted via live video broadcast from 11:00 A.M.-1:30 P.M. Central Time.  Register & Get More Details.

Learn the tests that will decide if your group health plan will qualify as “grandfathered” from key Affordable Care Act requirements and assess what updates you should consider making to meet critical 2010/2011 Affordable Care Act & other federal health plan compliance deadlines.

The August 24, 2010 “2010 Health Plan Update” briefing will cover the latest guidance on Affordable Care Act and other federal health plan regulatory changes impacting employment-based group health plans and their sponsors for plan years beginning between September 23, 2010 and September 22, 2011 and other key information to help employers, group health plans, insurers, plan administrators, fiduciaries, broker and others working with these plans to understand and respond to these new requirements including:

  • How to qualify your health plan as a grandfathered plan under Affordable Care act
  • How to decide if maintaining grandfathered plan status is worthwhile
  • Claims & appeals requirements for grandfathered & non-grandfathered plans
  • Preventive care coverage mandates & wellness program requirements & rules under Affordable Care Act & other federal regulations
  • Updated dependent child eligibility, pre-existing condition & other requirements for grandfathered & non-grandfathered plans
  • Special enrollment, preexisting condition & other eligibility mandates for grandfathered & non-grandfathered plans under new Affordable Care Act, new FMLA, COBRA, Michelle’s Law, HIPAA & other federal regulations
  • Mental health & substance abuse, provider choice & other benefit mandates under Affordable Care Act, Mental Health Parity & other federal rules
  • Update on other recent & pending Affordable Care Act group health plan rule guidance
  • Tips to review & update your plans, vendor agreements & processes to meet Affordable Care Act & other federal group health plan dictates
  • Expected future Affordable Care Act & other federal rule changes & tips for preparing
  • Practical strategies for responding to new requirements & changing rules
  • Participant questions

To register or get additional information, see here.

For Assistance or More Information

If your organization needs assistance updating your heath care program documentation, policies or procedures in response to these or other requirements or with other employee benefit, insurance or human resources matters, please contact the author of this update, Board Certified Labor & Employment attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer at (469) 767-8872 or via e-mail here.

Current Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPTE Employee Benefit & Other Compensation Group, a Council Member of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits and Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance  Interest Group, Ms. Stamer continuously advises employers, health and other employee benefit plans, plan sponsors, fiduciaries, plan administrators, plan vendors, insurers and others about health program related legal, operational, documentation, public policy, enforcement, privacy, technology, litigation and risk management and other concerns. Ms. Stamer also publishes, conducts client and other training, speaks and consults extensively on these and other health and managed care program concerns and practices. She regularly speaks and conducts training for the ABA, American Health Lawyers Association, Institute of Internal Auditors, Society for Professional Benefits Administrators, Southwest Benefits Association and many other organizations.  Her insights on these and related topics have appeared in Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, various ABA publications and a many other national and local publications.  To contact Ms. Stamer or for additional information about Ms. Stamer, her experience, involvements, programs or Publishers of her many highly regarded writings on health industry and human resources matters include the Bureau of National Affairs, Aspen Publishers, ABA, AHLA, Aspen Publishers, Schneider Publications, Spencer Publications, World At Work, SHRM, HCCA, State Bar of Texas, Business Insurance, James Publishing and many others.  You can review other highlights of Ms. Stamer’s experience here

Other Resources

If you found this information of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing other recent Solutions Law Press updates including:

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources available for review here. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates and notices about other upcoming Solutions Law Press events, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail- by creating or updating your profile at here. For important information concerning this communication click here.

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