Title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act) contemplates that states will exercise primary enforcement authority over health insurance issuers in the group and individual markets to ensure compliance with health insurance market reforms. In the event that a state notifies the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that it does not have statutory authority to enforce or that it is not otherwise enforcing one or more of the provisions of title XXVII, or if CMS determines that the state is not substantially enforcing the requirements, CMS has the responsibility to enforce these provisions in the state. This enforcement framework, in place since 1996, ensures that consumers in all states have protections of the Affordable Care Act and other parts of the PHS Act.
States and CMS have worked closely to ensure compliance with the health insurance accountability and consumer protections in federal law. The vast majority of states are enforcing the Affordable Care Act health insurance market reforms. Some states lack the authority, the ability to enforce these provisions, or both. CMS has responsibility for enforcing these requirements in a state that is not enforcing the health insurance market reforms either through a collaborative arrangement with the state or by direct enforcement to ensure all residents of the state receive the protections of the Affordable Care Act.
CMS will form a collaborative arrangement with any state that is willing and able to perform regulatory functions but lacks enforcement authority. To the extent that CMS and a state agree on a collaborative approach, the state will perform the same regulatory functions with respect to the Affordable Care Act market reform provisions as it does to ensure compliance with state law, and will seek to achieve voluntary compliance from issuers if the state finds a potential violation. Similarly, consumers will continue to contact the state for inquiries and complaints relating to the health insurance market reform requirements. Under this collaborative approach, if the state finds a potential violation and is unable to obtain voluntary compliance from an issuer, it will refer the matter to CMS for possible enforcement action.
If a state informs CMS that it does not have authority to enforce one or more of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and the state has not entered into a collaborative arrangement, CMS has the responsibility to directly enforce the relevant provisions in the state with respect to health insurance issuers in the group and individual markets. To do so, CMS will notify issuers in the state that they must submit policy forms to CMS for review. After collection and review of policy forms for compliance with the respective market reform provisions, CMS will notify issuers of any concerns. CMS will also conduct targeted market conduct examinations, as necessary, and respond to consumer inquiries and complaints to ensure compliance with the health insurance market reform standards. CMS will work cooperatively with the state to address any concerns.
At any time, a state that is willing and able may assume enforcement authority of the Affordable Care Act market reform standards. When that happens, CMS will work with the state to ensure an effective transition.
The following states have notified CMS that they do not have the authority to enforce or are not otherwise enforcing the Affordable Care Act market reform provisions.
Policy form review is one of the compliance tools used to confirm health insurance issuers' compliance with the provisions of the health insurance market reforms of the Affordable Care Act. Issuers required to submit form filings to CMS will need to follow instructions posted under Training Resources below.