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Wellmark's Iowa ACA Exchange Exit Prompts Civil Rights Complaint

Publisher: Bloomberg BNA's Privacy Law Watch
August 17, 2017

Eric Fader was quoted in an article, "Wellmark's Iowa ACA Exchange Exit Prompts Civil Rights Complaint," published in Bloomberg BNA's Privacy Law Watch. The article discusses an administrative complaint filed with the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights (OCR) by three groups representing hemophiliacs, claiming that Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield's withdrawal from the Iowa health-insurance exchange deprived hemophiliacs of coverage and violated the Affordable Care Act's nondiscrimination provision. Fader told Bloomberg BNA that the OCR might not act on the complaint because, while the ACA does bar insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, it doesn't prevent insurers from deciding to stop offering plans altogether. Fader also expressed doubt about the hemophilia groups' allegation that a Wellmark executive's statements had violated HIPAA, questioning whether referring to a 17-year old male hemophiliac was sufficient to allow anyone to identify the individual. "I don't understand why she [the executive] felt it necessary or appropriate to mention the patient's gender and precise age in her speech, but it doesn't appear to me that this was a clear HIPAA violation," Fader said. However, he did not rule out the idea that the OCR might use the incident as a teachable moment.


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