HHS Shuns Congressional Intent on ACA’s Practitioner Non-Discrimination Language

Article courtesy of John Weeks/The Integrator Blog
In an April 24, 2015 e-mail made available to the Integrator by Mike Jawer of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), the US. Department of Health and Human Services effectively told those following “non-discrimination in health care” (Section 2706) that HHS will not, anytime soon, abide by the law.

The background, captured in this article, relates to Section 2706 Non-Discrimination in Health Care of the Affordable Care Act. More precisely, HHS’s silence is connected to a subsequently published statement by the agency that dismissed Congress’ intent in their 2013 publication of Affordable Care Act Implementation FAQs–Set 15.  More specifically, at stake is a US Senate retort to HHS in a July 11, 2013 committee report that told the agency “to correct the FAQ to reflect the law and congressional intent.” The Senate requested the response from HHS by no later than October 2014.

On behalf of the AANP, Jawer had asked a representative of CMS to clarify current activity on the issue. A team from the AANP had met with HHS in October of 2014 on the issue. He also asked if a CMS representative might meet with naturopathic doctors and students at an early May 2015 DC-FLI “lobby day” for the profession in D.C.

The response came from Jim Mayhew. Mayhew is director, Division of Regulations and Policy, Office of Oversight, Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service. He wrote to Jawer:  “Many thanks for reaching out to us.  Unfortunately, no one is available on May 4th for a meeting.  Furthermore, we have nothing new to report since October in terms of publicly available information.  We’re continuing to work on issues related to section 2706 with our colleagues at Labor and Treasury and also with State regulators. Best regards, Jim Mayhew.”

CommentDear Dr. King. We have nothing new to publicly report on your desire to sit in the front of the bus where I do or to be able to get a cup of coffee where I enjoy my coffee and newspaper. We’re continuing to work with the owners of the bus lines and coffee shops. Best regards. Integrative health and medicine’s main advocate, former US Senator Tom Harkin, who has pushed HHS to respect Congressional intent, is retired to Iowa. One wonders if anything will move the agency short of a Big Honking Lawsuit. This continuing discrimination is harmful, to individuals, and to the public health. Good for the AANP to be remaining on this. What is the next step?

Author: John Weeks


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