Washington, D.C., government relations director Julie Scott Allen was quoted in Modern Healthcare as the health care industry awaits final guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on essential health benefits. HHS is expected to release its final regulation on this critical piece of the health care reform law in the first quarter of 2013.

Business organizations, health plans and provider associations argue that more flexibility is needed to make coverage affordable and want essential health benefits in health plans to look more like private coverage and less like Medicare.

Patient advocates and provider groups are concerned, however, that too much flexibility in designing essential health benefits means patients won't be able to receive the kind of care they need.

"In some way, it may seem like a good idea," said Julie, “But the concern [with too much flexibility] is that there will be little or no consistency across state lines," she said. "Someone could go from good coverage to not-so-good coverage."

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