Phoenix, AZ – The first provisions of the federal law take effect next month.
They bar insurers from charging for certain preventative care and
preclude a lifetime limit on benefits. Health and Human Services
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the $1 million for Arizona --
part of $46 million awarded nationwide -- is designed to get some
state help. But Erin Klug of the Arizona Department of Insurance
said state lawmakers haven't given her agency the authority to
enforce federal law. And they're unlikely to do so, given that
Gov. Jan Brewer is suing to have the statute overturned. Klug
said that leaves the question of what her agency can do.
(And the answer may be to send it off to HHS and let them know
that we've got an insurance company that's violating federal law
because, at this point, there are no state laws pulling all of
those federal requirements under our jurisdiction.)
Klug said the Legislature also has given her agency absolutely no
state authority over what health maintenance organizations can
charge their customers. And there's only limited ability to
dictate how much of what other types of health insurers collect
have to be paid out in benefits. She said that pretty much takes
the state out of the picture in enforcing future federal
regulations which prohibit unreasonable increases in premiums.
For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.