NH groups urge HHS to block state's waiver request

“While working families are struggling financially, the individual and small-group insurance market disproportionately supports record insurance company profits even in a recession,” they wrote. 

Consumer Watchdog argued that Anthem, which controls almost three-quarters of the state’s individual market, can easily adjust to the new federal requirement without delay.

“Is Anthem so incapable of providing better health coverage to consumers that it will quit selling insurance or increase premiums to the point that consumers can no longer afford it? The application does not show that either scenario is likely,” the group wrote to Sebelius.

The New Hampshire Hospital Association said a lower MLR requirement would not effectively incentivize insurers to lower overhead, as the healthcare reform provision intended. If HHS approves the waiver, the hospital association asked for the department to approve a phased-in approach “to provide a more measured, but certain, movement to new standards under the health care reform law.”

Eight states have asked HHS for a temporary MLR waiver. The department has so far decided only on Maine’s application, which it approved earlier this month.