HHS urged to reject report on essential benefits

Doctors and healthcare executives on Thursday slammed a set of expert recommendations on how to define “essential” health benefits.

More than 2,400 people signed a letter urging the Health and Human Services Department to reject recommendations from the Institute of Medicine as it defines the essential benefits that all health plans will soon have to cover.

The IOM report did not recommend specific benefits, but the panel drew heavily from the experience of small businesses in determining how benefits are usually determines. Small employers generally offer less coverage, and HHS has been pressed from many sides to start with a small package of essential benefits.

Adopting the IOM recommendations “will sacrifice many lives and cause much suffering,” the letter says.

The protest argues that many members of the IOM committee that drafted the report had financial conflicts of interest because of their ties to insurers.