January 2018

January 2018

FORHP’s Policy Team is ready to answer any questions you may have about these updates at RuralPolicy@hrsa.gov

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) seeks input on how to improve health care choice and competition

Executive Order 13813, Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States, directs the Administration to facilitate the purchase of insurance across State lines and the development and operation of a health care system that provides high‐quality care at affordable prices and to promote competition in health care markets and limit excessive consolidation throughout the health care system. In response, HHS requests input from the public on how existing state and federal laws, regulations and other policies limit choice and competition across health care markets and what actions state or federal government could take to support a health care system that provides high‐quality care at affordable prices. It seeks input on five (5) specific questions about Medicare, Medicaid and other sources of payment:

  • What laws, regulations, or policies reduce or restrict competition and choice in health care markets?
  • What laws, regulations, or policies may promote or encourage anticompetitive behavior in health care markets?
  • What state or federal grants or other funding mechanisms reduce or restrict competition and choice in health care markets?
  • What state or federal grants or other funding mechanisms may promote or encourage anticompetitive behavior in health care markets?
  • What suggestions do you have for policies or other solutions (including those pertaining to Medicare, Medicaid and other sources of payment) to promote the development and operation of a more competitive health care system that provides high‐quality care at affordable prices for the American people?

Comments are due by January 25, 2018. Visit this website for more information on how to submit comments.

Labor Department - Association Health Plans Proposed Rule

The Department of Labor has issued a proposed regulation that would expand the opportunity for small businesses to offer employment-based health insurance through Small Business Health Plans, also known as Association Health Plans (AHPs). Broadening the definition of ‘employer’ to allow AHPs to offer insurance under Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) would exempt AHPs from state regulation and some Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements.

The proposed regulation also seeks comment on allowing small employers, including those in rural communities, to form an AHP on the basis of geography or industry, so a health plan could serve employers in a state, city, county or a multi-state metro area, or it could serve all the businesses in a particular industry nationwide.

Comments due March 6, 2018. See the fact sheet for more information.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Promoting Telehealth in Rural America Proposed Rule

On January 2, 2018, the FCC published in the Federal Register a proposed rule with policy proposals to ensure that rural health care providers get the support they need while guarding against waste, fraud and abuse. The rule considers a series of measures to ensure the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program operates efficiently and considers the appropriate size of the funding cap. The Commission also takes targeted, immediate action in the Order section of the item to mitigate the impact of the existing RHC Program cap on rural healthcare providers in funding year (FY) 2017.

Comments are due February 2, 2018. You may submit comments, identified by WC Docket No. 17-310, by any of the following methods:

  • Follow the instructions for submitting comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal
  • Follow the instructions for submitting comments via the FCC website
  • People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov, phone: (202) 418-0530 or TTY: (202) 418-0432

This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB1RH24206, Information Services to Rural Hospital Flexibility Program Grantees, $1,100,000 (0% financed with nongovernmental sources). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.