Legal challenges to managed care cost containment programs: an initial assessment. (1/21)

The success of managed care cost containment innovations depends on many factors, including how courts decide litigation challenging various cost containment initiatives. Although such litigation is just emerging, enough cases have been reported to enable an initial assessment of court rulings. To date there is no evidence that courts have systematically impeded cost containment initiatives. Few courts seem willing to usurp legislative choices in formulating health policy or to obstruct the market in organizing and delivering health care services. The anticipated role of the courts as policymakers in shaping health care delivery has yet to emerge.  (+info)

Expanded managed care liability: what impact on employer coverage? (2/21)

Policymakers are considering legislative changes that would increase managed care organizations' exposure to civil liability for withholding coverage or failing to deliver needed care. Using a combination of empirical information and theoretical analysis, we assess the likely responses of health plans and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plan sponsors to an expansion of liability, and we evaluate the policy impact of those moves. We conclude that the direct costs of liability are uncertain but that the prospect of litigation may have other important effects on coverage decision making, information exchange, risk contracting, and the extent of employers' involvement in health coverage.  (+info)

Toward full mental health parity and beyond. (3/21)

The 1996 Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA), which became effective in January 1998, is scheduled to expire in September 2001. This paper examines what the MHPA accomplished and steps toward more comprehensive parity. We explain the strategic and self-reinforcing link of parity with managed behavioral health care and conclude that the current path will be difficult to reverse. The paper ends with a discussion of what might be behind the claims that full parity in mental health benefits is insufficient to achieve true equity and whether additional steps beyond full parity appear realistic or even desirable.  (+info)

Consumers versus managed care: the new class actions. (4/21)

The plaintiffs in pending consumer class-action lawsuits against health maintenance organizations (HMOs) should fail in their claims for damages for fraud under federal anti-racketeering legislation. Although HMOs have regularly failed to disclose their business methods and have not strictly honored their contractual coverage promises, the circumstances in which they introduced cost controls into a market sadly lacking them suggest motives not deserving punitive sanctions. Courts could easily find that HMOs violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), however. Injunctive relief compelling more extensive disclosures and clearer contracts might well legitimize HMOs' methods and generally improve the performance of the health care marketplace.  (+info)

Amendments to Summary Plan Description regulations. Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, Labor. Final rule. (5/21)

This document contains a final rule amending the regulations governing the content of the Summary Plan Description (SPD) required to be furnished to employee benefit plan participants and beneficiaries under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA). These amendments implement information disclosure recommendations of the President's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, as set forth in their November 20, 1997, report, "Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities." Specifically, the amendments clarify benefit, medical provider, and other information required to be disclosed in, or as part of, the SPD of a group health plan and repeal the limited exemption with respect to SPDs of welfare plans providing benefits through qualified health maintenance organizations (HMOs). In addition, this document contains several amendments updating and clarifying provisions relating to the content of SPDs that affect both pension and welfare benefit plans. This document also adopts in final form certain regulations that were effective on an interim basis implementing amendments to ERISA enacted as part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). This final rule will affect employee pension and welfare benefit plans, including group health plans, as well as administrators, fiduciaries, participants and beneficiaries of such plans.  (+info)

Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974: rules and regulations for administration and enforcement; claims procedure. Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, Labor. Final regulation. (6/21)

This document contains a final regulation revising the minimum requirements for benefit claims procedures of employee benefit plans covered by Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA or the Act). The regulation establishes new standards for the processing of claims under group health plans and plans providing disability benefits and further clarifies existing standards for all other employee benefit plans. The new standards are intended to ensure more timely benefit determinations, to improve access to information on which a benefit determination is made, and to assure that participants and beneficiaries will be afforded a full and fair review of denied claims. When effective, the regulation will affect participants and beneficiaries of employee benefit plans, employers who sponsor employee benefit plans, plan fiduciaries, and others who assist in the provision of plan benefits, such as third-party benefits administrators and health service providers or health maintenance organizations that provide benefits to participants and beneficiaries of employee benefit plans.  (+info)

National Medical Support Notice. Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, Labor. Final rule. (7/21)

This document contains a final rule that promulgates a National Medical Support Notice to be issued by State agencies as a means of enforcing the health care coverage provisions in a child support order, and to be treated by plan administrators of group health plans as a qualified medical child support order under section 609(a) of Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Through this regulation, the Department of Labor (the Department) is implementing an amendment to section 609(a) of ERISA, made by section 401 of the Child Support Performance and Incentive Act of 1998 (CSPIA), Pub. L. 105-200. This rule will affect group health plans, participants in group health plans, noncustodial children of such participants, and State agencies that administer child support enforcement programs.  (+info)

Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974; rules and regulations for administration and enforcement; claims procedure. Final regulation; delay of applicability date. (8/21)

This action delays for at least six months and not more than one year the applicability date for the regulation governing minimum requirements for benefit claims procedures of group health plans covered by Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. As published on November 21, 2000, the benefit claims procedure would be applicable to claims filed on or after January 1, 2002. The current action amends the regulation so that it will apply to group health claims filed on or after the first day of the first plan year beginning on or after July 1, 2002, but in no event later than January 1, 2003. This action provides a limited additional period within which group health plan sponsors, administrators, and service providers can bring their claims processing systems into compliance with the new requirements. A postponement of the applicability date with respect to group health claims will allow a more orderly transition to the new standards and will avoid the confusion and additional expense that would be caused if certain pending Congressional bills are enacted before or soon after the original applicability date. This action does not apply to pension plans or plans providing disability or welfare benefits (other than group health). For these plans, the regulation will continue to be applicable to claims filed on or after January 1, 2002.  (+info)