At NPR, Michelle Andrews reports:
Since the 10 required benefits are spelled out in the Affordable Care Act, the law would have to be changed to eliminate entire categories or to make them less generous than typical employer coverage. And since Republicans likely cannot garner 60 votes in the Senate to do that, they will be limited in changes that they can make to the ACA. Still, there's room to "skinny up" the requirements in some areas by changing the regulations that federal officials wrote to implement the law.
The law requires that plans cover "rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices." Many employer plans don't include habilitative services, which help people with developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy or autism maintain, learn or improve their functional skills, via speech or occupational therapy or other support services. Federal officials issued a regulation that defined habilitative services and directed plans to set separate limits for the number of covered visits for rehabilitative and habilitative services. Those rules could be changed.
"There is real room for weakening the requirements" for habilitative services, says Dania Palanker, an attorney and assistant research professor at Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms, who has reviewed the essential health benefits coverage requirements.
Mental health and substance use disorder services
The health law requires all individual and small group plans to cover mental health services and treatments for substance use disorders. In the regulations, the Obama administration said that means those services have to be provided at "parity" with medical and surgical services, meaning plans can't be more restrictive with one type of coverage than the other regarding cost sharing, treatment and care management.
"They could back off of parity," Palanker says.