Hawai’i Receives Approval for the First State Innovation (Section 1332) Waiver

04 January 2017 Health Care Law Today Blog
Author(s): Anil Shankar

The federal Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Treasury (the Departments) agreed that certain small employer health insurance coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be waived for the state of Hawai’i, beginning with January 1, 2017. The waiver was authorized pursuant to Section 1332 of the ACA, which allows states to apply for a State Innovation Waiver.

Hawai’i’s waiver is the first of its kind.

Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers offer states flexibility to waive key insurance coverage provisions of the ACA, including the requirement for individuals and employers to maintain insurance coverage for themselves or their employees (the individual and employer mandates), requirements related to the scope of available benefits provided through insurance (essential health benefits), requirements for creation of a marketplace for purchasing health insurance coverage (exchanges), requirements for the credentialing of health plans offered through the exchanges (QHPs), and limits on deductibles and cost sharing for QHPs. State Innovation Waivers also allow states to request waivers of cost sharing reductions and tax credits available for individuals and businesses pursuant to the ACA; the amount of these reductions and tax credits are available to the state for the operation of a replacement program.

Under its approved application, Hawai’i will cease operation of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) required by the ACA effective January 1, 2017, for a 5 year period which may be extended. Instead, Hawai’i will operate the business insurance program, known as “Prepaid,” that has been in place since 1974. Under Hawai’s Prepaid Health Care Act, employers are required to provide insurance to employees that meet requirements established by state law. To receive approval from the Departments for the waiver, and as a condition of receiving federal funds, Hawai’i demonstrated that its program met or exceeded the scope of coverage that would have been available under the ACA, provided coverage and cost sharing protection that are at least as affordable as available under the ACA, and provided coverage to at least as many residents as under the ACA. Hawai’i will receive quarterly payments from the federal government for the operation of this program, equal to the estimated amount of tax credits that would have been provided to small employers in Hawai’i pursuant to the SHOP program.

The awarding of the section 1332 waiver to Hawai’i represents the first State Innovation Waiver to modify requirements of the ACA. Section 1332 was developed as part of the ACA to allow states, such as Hawai’i, to maintain coverage programs that predated the ACA or to allow states to experiment with coverage programs that are more robust or that differ from the form required by the ACA. Currently, at least 9 states have enacted laws authorizing state officials to analyze or submit an application for a section 1332 waiver. As discussions about the ACA are taken up by the new Congress and new administration, section 1332 waivers will continue to influence how states and stakeholders evaluate their options.

This blog is made available by Foley & Lardner LLP (“Foley” or “the Firm”) for informational purposes only. It is not meant to convey the Firm’s legal position on behalf of any client, nor is it intended to convey specific legal advice. Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Foley & Lardner LLP, its partners, or its clients. Accordingly, do not act upon this information without seeking counsel from a licensed attorney. This blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Communicating with Foley through this website by email, blog post, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship for any legal matter. Therefore, any communication or material you transmit to Foley through this blog, whether by email, blog post or any other manner, will not be treated as confidential or proprietary. The information on this blog is published “AS IS” and is not guaranteed to be complete, accurate, and or up-to-date. Foley makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation or content of the site. Foley expressly disclaims all other guarantees, warranties, conditions and representations of any kind, either express or implied, whether arising under any statute, law, commercial use or otherwise, including implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Foley or any of its partners, officers, employees, agents or affiliates be liable, directly or indirectly, under any theory of law (contract, tort, negligence or otherwise), to you or anyone else, for any claims, losses or damages, direct, indirect special, incidental, punitive or consequential, resulting from or occasioned by the creation, use of or reliance on this site (including information and other content) or any third party websites or the information, resources or material accessed through any such websites. In some jurisdictions, the contents of this blog may be considered Attorney Advertising. If applicable, please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Photographs are for dramatization purposes only and may include models. Likenesses do not necessarily imply current client, partnership or employee status.

Related Services