Rockefeller raises concerns with mini-med exemption from healthcare reform law

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), one of the main advocates of the medical-loss ratio protections in the healthcare reform law, criticized the special treatment offered to low-value plans in federal regulations unveiled Monday.

Rockefeller said in a statement that he was "disappointed that limited benefit 'mini-med' plans continue to seek exceptions from these standards," but that "they should know that their requests will be subject to close scrutiny."

He also vowed to hold hearings on the plans, some of which offer as little as $2,000 worth of coverage a year, in his capacity as chairman of the Senate commerce panel.

"As I have said before," Rockefeller said, "I look forward to closely examining what type of coverage these plans provide to consumers over the coming year."

Overall, though, Rockefeller joined the near-unanimous praise for the regulations, which closely track recommendations from state insurance commissioners.

"I applaud (federal regulators) for standing by consumers and rejecting calls to weaken the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) standards," he added. "I also commend the NAIC for conducting a thorough, open, and fair process in reaching its recommendations."