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13 Dec 2011 06:35 AM

Retiree health funds run low, program to close early

A notice in Friday's Federal Register made clear that the fund designed to help cover health insurance for early retirees would stop taking claims for expenses incurred after Dec. 31.  

The Wall Street Journal: Retiree Health Fund To Close Early
The fund was set up to be available until 2014, when new rules are scheduled to take effect to make it easier for older Americans to buy insurance without the help of an employer. A federal report released at the end of October projected the fund would be tapped by September 2012, given the large amount that had already been spent to cover claims (Radnofsky, 12/9).

Kaiser Health News: Fund To Help Cover Early Retirees Nearly Out Of Money
A $5 billion fund that helped cover health insurance for more than five million early retirees will stop taking claims for expenses incurred after Dec. 31 because it is running out of money, according to a notice Friday in the Federal Register (Torres, 12/9).

Meanwhile, news outlets report on the progress of health care cooperatives and health insurance brokers' plans in the wake of the administration's medical-loss ratio rule.

CQ HealthBeat: Cooperatives To 'Spread Like Wildfire,' Boosters Say
The head of a group recently formed to promote the formation of health care cooperatives under the health care law hailed the Thursday publication of a final rule governing start-up funding for the consumer-oriented health plans. John Morrison, head of the National Alliance of State Health Cooperatives, predicted that co-ops will be established in 25 states in the early going. He said in a statement Friday that the co-op movement "is spreading like wildfire" (Reichard, 12/9).

Politico Pro: Brokers Look For Next Steps On MLR Relief
A new federal health insurance rule in President Barack Obama's health care law was supposed to crack down on wasteful administrative expenses, but insurance agents and brokers say they're about to become unintended casualties. And so far, they haven't been able to get the Obama administration or Congress to do much about it. The law's medical loss ratio rule, which requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent to 85 percent of premium dollars on providing medical care, is touted as one of the law's consumer-friendly insurance market reforms -; an assurance that insurers aren't wasting consumers' money on excessive advertising, administrative costs and executive salaries (Millman, 12/12).

In other health law news, a Connecticut advocacy groups files a brief in support of the overhaul's ban on pre-existing condition exclusions -;  

The Connecticut Mirror: Farmington Advocacy Group Files Amicus Brief In Health Reform Lawsuit
Farmington-based Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness has filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the federal health reform law. The brief argues that one requirement of the reform law, prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, is necessary to ensure that health insurance is available to all Americans (Levin Becker, 12/9). 

This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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