By Julian Pecquet - 03/08/11 09:26 PM EST
Maine health insurers are getting a temporary waiver from the health reform law's requirement that they spend at least 80 percent of premiums on care, federal regulators decided Tuesday.
Maine is the first state to get a waiver. Three other states — New Hampshire, Nevada and Kentucky — have pending waiver applications.
The Department of Health and Human Services agreed with those arguments in a letter sent Tuesday to Superintendent of Insurance Mila Kofman, a supporter of the law. The waiver is good for three years, but the last year is conditional on getting 2012 data that shows a continued need for the waiver.
The decision is "rooted in the particular circumstances of the Maine insurance market," the letter reads.
Specifically, HHS points out that three insurers make up the bulk of Maine's individual insurance market: Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maine (49 percent), MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company (37 percent) and HPHC Insurance Company (13 percent). MEGA had told Maine during preliminary discussions that it "would probably need to withdraw from this market if the minimum loss ratio requirement were increased."