Republicans press Sebelius for PPACA premiums

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius  (AP photo/Charles Dharapak) HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (AP photo/Charles Dharapak)

Seven Republicans in Congress are asking about an article in which a reporter suggested the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services might be holding back on releasing health insurance exchange premium data.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and six colleagues have written in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that they believe HHS should provide "transparent pricing as soon as possible."

The lawmakers are asking for copies of all documents filed by carriers that want to participate in the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act "federally facilitated exchanges" and "federal-state partnership exchanges."

"Describe what, if any, incentives of any kind HHS uses to motivate insurers to change their rates," the lawmakers said in the letter. "Please provide a list of all insurers HHS has contacted to negotiate rates and a written explanation of the circumstances and result."

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that HHS has Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchange rate data for all 34 states in which HHS will either run a federally facilitated exchange or help run a federal-state partnership exchange.

Some state insurance regulators have published FFE or partnership exchange plan premium data, and HHS published a short analysis of the exchange premium information released by 11 states with state-based, FFE and partnership exchanges. 

At a press conference, Sebelius declined to give specific information about FFE and partnership exchange rates. She said "negotiations are under way, and we will be negotiating rates across the country," according to the Republican lawmakers.

Representatives from HHS were not immediately available to comment on the exchange rate-setting process.

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