Gov. Dave Heineman today notified U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that Nebraska is submitting a "Nebraska Option" for the "Essential Health Benefit" package. Nebraska is submitting a high deductible health savings option for review and approval by Sec. Sebelius, despite the fact that the federal government has not supplied critically-needed information to states.
The federal government has failed to provide crucial information to date including regulations from federal Health and Human Services outlining the process with which states are expected to comply; and a federal decision date so that insurers can develop products to meet federal mandates.
"By submitting the Nebraska Essential Health Benefits Plan, we are focusing on finding affordable options for Nebraskans," said Gov. Heineman. "Under Obamacare, the State of Nebraska is required by federal law to provide an outline for an Essential Health Benefit plan, despite the United States Department of Health and Human Services not supplying vital regulations and information to the states."
The Governor added, "The Nebraska Essential Health Benefits Plan would be the absolute minimal coverage plan out of hundreds of health insurance plans from which Nebraskans can choose for themselves, their families and their small businesses. Providing affordable health insurance options for Nebraskans allows Nebraskans, not the federal government, to choose what is best for their needs."
Under President Obama's federal health care overhaul law, states have to submit an Essential Health Benefits plan to the federal government on Oct. 1, 2012. Essential Health Benefits is a set of health care service categories that must be covered by all health plans being sold in a state, starting in 2014.
The plans will set the floor for the amount and types of coverage that must be available serving the individual and small group markets when the individual mandate included in Obamacare kicks in in 2014. States that don't choose their own benchmarks will have them set by the federal government.
President Obama's federal health care overhaul law dictates that health plans offered in the individual and small group markets, both inside and outside of the Exchanges, offer a package of items and services, referred to as essential health benefits. By federal law, Essential Health Benefits must include items and services within at least the following 10 categories: ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.