Essential Health Benefits: Earning Celiac Disease Treatment a Spot
Last Thursday, October 20, I had the privilege of speaking at the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Essential Health Benefits Comment Session in Washington, DC. Many of you may be familiar with the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance reform legislation President Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010, which ensures that Americans have access to quality, affordable health insurance. This Act mandates that plans offered in the new Affordable Insurance Exchanges provide a package of essential health benefits (EHB).
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is in charge of defining the EHB. To assist in this process, HHS asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to make recommendations on the criteria and methods for defining and updating the EHB. The HHS also reviewed benefits currently included in typical employer plans as part of the process in defining the EHB.
Now that the IOM has completed its report and HHS has finished its review of typical employer plans,the Department announced that it was ready to hear from the stakeholders. To name just a few, the stakeholders include States, patients, providers, and employers.
I joined other consumer advocates at Thursday’s comments session. The advocacy groups’ interests ranged from obesity to HIV/AIDS to diabetes to teen pregnancy to eating disorders. Although it was very last minute (NFCA was invited Tuesday afternoon!), it was a great opportunity and I was excited to represent NFCA at such an important public stakeholders meeting.
Please check out the attached PDF to read NFCA’s official submitted comments.
We hope that HHS takes our recommendations into consideration as they go forward in defining the EHB. As NFCA Scientific/Medical Advisory Board member Dr. Dan Leffler put it, such an achievement is on his “celiac wish list.”