In the preface to its February 15 market stabilization rule, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would be revising its 2017 calendar for qualified health plan (QHP) certification and rate filing deadlines for 2018 plans and rates. On February 17, 2017, the Department released drafts of a proposed bulletin announcing new rate filing deadlines; a revised list of key dates for 2017; and an addendum to its 2018 letter to issuers in the federally facilitated marketplace released last December incorporating the new certification dates. The original list of key 2017 dates released in December of 2016 is available here.

The goal of the revised QHP certification dates is clearly to allow insurers more time to consider whether they will participate in the federally facilitated marketplace. The initial deadline for filing QHP applications and rate table templates for coverage that includes a QHP for 2018 is delayed substantially from May 3, 2017 to June 21, 2017. After that date, deadlines are compressed and generally moved backwards from the earlier calendar.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will send insurers a notice as to corrections they will need to make in their applications by August 2 rather than the earlier date of June 13. CMS will send its final correction notice to QHP insurers with a final list of plans by September 15 rather than September 11. States must send their final recommendations regarding QHPs to CMS by September 27 rather than September 15. Insurers must send their final signed agreements, confirmed plan lists, and crosswalks of 2017 to 2018 plans to CMS by September 27 instead of September 25. And CMS will send its final certification notices to QHP insurers by October 12, moved back from September 22. HealthCare.gov will still need to have QHP information loaded for a November 1, 2017 open enrollment launch.

Oddly, a few dates in the schedule are moved up. Insurers will have until August 4 to petition to change their service areas, earlier than the initial deadline of August 9. The final deadline for insurers to petition to make changes in their QHP applications will be August 16, moved up from August 21. And the end of the limited window during which insurers can correct data errors identified by the states or HHS is advanced from October 13 to October 7.

HHS also proposes delaying rate filing deadlines for single-risk pool (individual and small group) markets. QHP and non-QHP insurers in states that do not have effective rate review programs (of which there are only four) must file rate filing justifications with HHS by June 1, 2017, moved back from the earlier date of May 3. Insurers in states with effective rate review programs must submit their rates by a date set by the state, which can be as late as July 17, 2017 (the same date as in the earlier schedule) although states are encouraged to have insurers submit their rates by June 21, 2017, the QHP rate template filing deadline.

CMS and the states with effective rate review programs must publicly post proposed rate increases by August 1, the same date as in the initial rate filing calendar. Also unchanged from the earlier calendar are the date for rate filing justifications for non-QHP coverage and the final date for CMS and the states to post rates (November 1, 2017). CMS proposes to move one rate filing deadline: the final status date for QHP rate filing justifications is moved up from August 21 to August 16. States may post proposed or final rates before the deadlines but must post all rates for relevant market segments at the same time.