The Consumer Assistance Program, under the CNMI Department of Commerce, announced yesterday the publication of nearly 40 FAQs regarding the Affordable Care Act in the CNMI. These FAQs are available to the public on the CAP office’s temporary website, cnmicap.wordpress.com.
Consumer Advocacy Officer Kaitlyn Mocanu expects this information will generate interest from the public and raise awareness of the Jan. 1, 2014, effective date of many Affordable Care Act provisions. In addition to providing some answers, Mocanu hopes the FAQs will bring in many more questions from the public.
“It is important for CNMI residents to know that many of the health insurance reform provisions of the Affordable Care Act do apply to their health insurance. Transparency is a crucial element of the ACA and the public is encouraged to ask questions and ensure their federally-mandated rights are being upheld,” said Mocanu. “Everyone should educate themselves on their new rights and protections under the ACA; the CAP office is here to facilitate that education.”
The intention of the Affordable Care Act is to make affordable health care available to all Americans and, thanks to the ACA amendments made to the Public Health Service Act, residents of U.S. territories are included.
“As more people become aware of the Affordable Care Act, it will become clear to them that the ACA is a blessing for the CNMI,” stated Commerce Secretary Sixto K. Igisomar. “Previous to this Act, there was virtually no regulation of the health insurance industry nor surveillance of industry practices. The ACA puts power into the hands of the health care consumer”.
Insurance regulation has traditionally been a responsibility of the state. While many states in the mainland have been closely regulating health insurance for many years, the CNMI has never put aside funding or personnel to undertake the comprehensive overhaul needed. Because of laws now already established by the federal government and funding made possible by the ACA, the CNMI has a chance to “catch up” to the states in reforming health care.
“I believe the Affordable Care Act gives the CNMI a chance to improve our health care industry and public health, especially when we know, based on the 2010 Census, that more than 30 percent of CNMI residents do not have health insurance,” said Gov. Eloy S. Inos. “Although we must adopt this federal law, we must keep in mind the unique circumstances of our Commonwealth and make this law work for us.”
Inos highlighted the importance of upholding the intent of the Affordable Care Act along with the rules that govern it. This, according to the governor, will require the technical support of the federal government.
“We will make every effort to use this opportunity to mitigate any socio-economic impact on the ACA and work with [U.S. Health and Human Services] and our U.S. Delegate to extend the same funding subsidies given to other States under the Individual and Employer mandate,” said Inos.
Currently, ACA-related legislation is being reviewed for introduction to the House and the premium rate review process is scheduled to be ready for insurance premium rate submissions on Oct. 1, 2013.
Learn more about the Affordable Care Act in the CNMI at cnmicap.wordpress.com or email questions to email@example.com. (Office of the Governor)