by Lynn Shapiro Snyder, Clayton J. Nix, and Lesley R. Yeung

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) released a survey report on April 15, 2011, that is being used to satisfy a requirement in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) that the Secretary of Labor “conduct a survey of employer-sponsored coverage” as a condition precedent to the development of the “essential health benefits package” by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (“HHS”). This DOL survey is the first step in the process laid out in ACA for establishing the minimum benefits package to be offered in the various health insurance exchanges for which subsidies and tax credits will be available. Under ACA, the Secretary of HHS ultimately has the discretion for determining the “essential health benefits package,” which goes to the heart of federal health reform. Companies that are interested in the scope of the “essential health benefits package” will want to review not only this published DOL survey in detail, but also other DOL survey information, and should consider weighing in with the Secretary of HHS before any preliminary positions are published by HHS in proposed or interim final regulations.

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