Affordable Care Act’s Health Plan External & Internal Review Safe Harbor & Other Regulations Require Health Plan Updates

 The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act) generally mandates that all group and individual health plans and policies comply with these mandates no later than the first plan or policy year beginning after September 22, 2010 unless the plan or policy qualifies as a “grandfathered plan” under the Affordable Care Act.  Employer and other health plan sponsors, insurers, fiduciaries and administrators of all federally-regulated employment-based health plans should move quickly to update plan documents, administrative procedures and agreements, decisional criteria, investigation and decision-making documentation, and claims and appeals-related notification and other communications to comply with a series of new Federal guidance governing health plan claims and appeals published in the Federal Register on July 23, 2010 as further supplemented by additional “safe harbor” external review procedures published in the Federal Register today (August 26, 2010) (collectively the ACA Appeals Rules”).

Although the ACA Appeals Rules technically apply only to non-grandfathered plans, Agency commentary about existing Labor Department health plan claims and appeals procedures published along with the ACA Appeals rules sends a strong signal that the adequacy of all health plan claims and appeals procedures is warranted. As many health plan sponsors and health insurers are deciding that compliance with Affordable Care Act mandates is more cost effective than meeting the conditions that federal regulations require for a health plan to maintain grandfathered plan status, most group health plans and policies will need to be updated to comply with these new rules quickly.  Even if a plan qualifies as a grandfathered plan, however, comments contained included the preamble to the July 23, 2010 guidance and recent court decisions send a strong signal that a review and update of existing claims and appeals procedures and practices is warranted. 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

Learn More About Affordable Care Act Mandates:  Order Recording of August 24  “2010 Health Plan Update”

Details of recently released guidance about federal health plan rules applicable to employment-based health plans under the Affordable Care Act and other federal health plan regulations were among the topics covered in a “2010 Health Plan Update” internet broadcast briefing on Tuesday, August 24 2010.  For more information about this briefing, see here.  If you are interested in purchasing a recording of this briefing, e-mail 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:

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