Chance to Weigh In on Essential Benefits

The Department of Health and Human Services will be hosting a listening session on the topic of Minimum Essential Benefits, the baseline of benefits that all insurance plans must cover on November 21st. This is a great opportunity for consumers and advocates to share our needs.

YOU MUST RSVP IN ADVANCE by emailing your name, title, organization, and email address to
Please see details below:

Region 9 Listening Session: San Francisco

November 21, 2011
3 – 5 PM
Location: 90 Seventh Street, Suite 5-100
San Francisco, CA 94103

To register for the event, please send an email with your name, organization, title, email address and phone number to the email address above. (NOTE: In some locations, RSVPs are needed for building security and will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis)

The Affordable Care Act ensures Americans have access to quality, affordable health insurance. To achieve this goal, the law ensures plans offered in the new Affordable Insurance Exchanges offer a package of essential health benefits, which are to be defined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The statute directs the Secretary to consider the scope of benefits provided under a typical employer plan in defining essential health benefits. To inform the Department, HHS received a survey of employer-sponsored coverage conducted by the Department of Labor as well as recommendations from the Institute of Medicine on the criteria and methods for defining and updating essential health benefits.

HHS is committed to receiving broad public input on essential health benefits from all stakeholders, including States, patients, providers, employers, legislators, insurers, and all other interested Americans.

To that end, we are pleased to invite you to comment sessions for regional, state, and local stakeholders on essential health benefits. Senior HHS officials will be in attendance to listen to stakeholder feedback.

If you plan to attend the session, we ask that you consider these questions in preparing your comments:

· In keeping with the title of the Institute of Medicine report “Essential Health Benefits-Balancing Coverage and Cost”, how can the Department best meet the dual goals of balancing the comprehensiveness of coverage included in essential health benefits and affordability?

· How might the Department ensure that essential health benefits reflect an appropriate balance among the categories so that they are not unduly weighted toward any category?

· What policy principles and criteria should be taken into account to prevent discrimination against individuals because of their age, disability status, or expected length of life as the Affordable Care Act requires?

· What models should HHS consider in developing essential health benefits?

· What criteria should be used to update essential health benefits over time and what should the process be for their modification?

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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