Tuesday, July 7, 1998


This is a moment of unsurpassed hope and opportunity. If we put aside partisanship for the sake of progress, we can give all Americans the health care protections they deserve and strengthen the nation for the 21st Century.

-President Bill Clinton
July 7, 1998

Today, President Clinton issues an Executive Memorandum directing the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to take all necessary actions, up to and including termination from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), against health insurers of federal employees who do not comply with the protections afforded by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In addition, the President announces that the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) will forward any reports of violations to OPM.

Reports Show Possible Evasion Of Kassebaum-Kennedy. The HIPAA law helps individuals keep health insurance when they change jobs, guarantees renewability of coverage, and insures access to health insurance for small businesses. According to the General Accounting Office (GAO), HCFA, and press reports:

Presidential Action To Stem Abuse. Today, the President takes strong action against insurers who violate the Kassebaum-Kennedy protections, including:

Increasing Access To Health Care. The President has led the fight to assure HIPAA provides millions of Americans access to health insurance. When the President first learned of reports of insurers circumventing HIPAA, he instructed HHS to take appropriate action to stop health insurers from engaging in these forms of harmful and likely unlawful practices. HCFA responded immediately by mailing a guidance bulletin to all state insurance commissioners for distribution to private insurers. This bulletin advised insurance companies that denying or delaying HIPAA protections was unlawful and underscored the federal government's commitment to ensuring compliance. The President also fought for key reforms that were included in Kassebaum-Kennedy, including:

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