|For Immediate Release
|Carl Schmid The AIDS Institute •(202) 462-3042
|Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Leading Patient Groups Send Letter To HHS Secretary Requesting Comment Period Extension
Groups note critical decisions will directly impact scope of health benefits of over 70 million patients
Washington, DC (January 11, 2012) – Seventy-five patient advocate groups today sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, requesting an additional 45 days to offer comments in response to the Bulletin on Essential Health Benefits released by the department on December 16, 2011.
In the bulletin, HHS released guidance giving states the ability to choose between four benchmark models instead of laying out specific benefits that must be covered under the Affordable Care Act. HHS is seeking comments on the bulletin by January 31, 2012.
In their letter, the groups comment that "The design of the Essential Health Benefits will directly impact the scope of health benefits and the well-being of over 70 million patients.…Basically, these benefit sets will have far reaching implications for our entire health system. Weighing in on this decision is far too important to be done with anything less than careful and intensive deliberation."
The patient advocates are requesting an extension that would push the deadline to March 15, 2012. Reasons they cite for the extension include: 1) the large number of people affected; 2) the enormous complexity of the issues which must be considered; 3) the fact that the Bulletin was released just before the long holiday period; and 4) the very short 45 day comment period.
Signatories to the letter include: The AIDS Institute, American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, American Lung Association, American Nurses Association, Arthritis Foundation, Community Catalyst, Epilepsy Foundation, Illinois Public Health Association, Lupus Foundation of America, Mental Health America, National Alliance of Hispanic Health, National Alliance on Mental Illness, The National Grange, National Minority Quality Forum, National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, National Women's Law Center, Parkinson's Action Network, and the Vietnam Veterans of America.
The text of the patient groups' letter, including all 75 signatories, is below:
January 11, 2012
Dear Secretary Sebelius:
We, the undersigned, are health advocacy organizations representing millions of patients and their families who will be dramatically impacted by the way in which Essential Health Benefits are defined. We are writing to ask that you allow us more time in which to offer comments in response to the Bulletin on Essential Benefits you announced on December 16, 2011.
The design of the Essential Health Benefits will directly impact the scope of health benefits and the well-being of over 70 million patients. Beneficiaries affected will be those covered in non-grandfathered plans in the individual and small group markets, the Medicaid benchmark, and other Basic Health Programs. Basically, these benefit sets will have far reaching implications for our entire health system. Weighing in on this decision is far too important to be done with anything less than careful and intensive deliberation.
A number of factors lead to a request for an extension of time: 1) the large number of people affected; 2) the enormous complexity of the issues which must be considered; 3) the fact that the Bulletin was released just before the long holiday period; and 4) the very short 45 day comment period. Therefore, we respectfully request that the comment period be extended by an additional 45 days until March 15, 2012.
Thank you very much.
AIDS Action Committee of MA
AIDS Foundation of Chicago
The AIDS Institute
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
American Lung Association
American Nurses Association
American Society of Addiction Medicine
The Arc of Illinois
California Institute for Mental Health
California Society of Addiction Medicine
California Mental Health Directors Association
Campaign for Better Health Care, Illinois
Clinical Social Work Association
Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis
Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)
County Alcohol & Drug Program Administrators Association of California
Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America
Harm Reduction Coalition
Health & Disability Advocates
Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights
Illinois Alcoholism & Drug Dependence Association
Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities
Illinois Chiropractic Society
Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition
Illinois Public Health Association
International Pemphigus Pemphigoid Foundation
Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (LAF)
Lifelong AIDS Alliance
Lupus Foundation of America
Lupus Foundation of Mid and Northern New York, Inc.
Lupus Research Institute National Coalition
Men's Health Network
Mental Health America
Michigan Association of CMH Boards
Minnesota Recovery Connection
National Alliance for Hispanic Health
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers
National Association of County Behavioral Health and Development Directors
National Association of Hispanic Nurses
National Athletic Trainers' Association
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD)
The National Grange
National Minority Quality Forum
National Organization for Rare Disorders
National Patient Advocate Foundation
National Psoriasis Foundation
National Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities
National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable
National Women's Law Center
National Women's AIDS Collective (NWAC)
The Neuropathy Association
OWL - The Voice For Midlife and Older Women
Parkinson's Action Network
Platelet Disorder Support Association
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association
Scleroderma Foundation, Inc.
Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation
Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR)
State Associations of Addiction Services
Tennessee AIDS Advocacy Network
Treatment Communities of America
Veterans Health Council
Vietnam Veterans of America
WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease
You may also download this letter at http://www.hispanichealth.org/assets/pdf/Sebelius_EHB_letter_11Jan12.pdf