The AHA supports targeted efforts to stop offenders from inappropriately steering people eligible for Medicare or Medicaid into individual health plans, but such actions should not be used as a pretext to further restrict the ability of certain third parties to help individuals with their premiums and cost-sharing responsibilities, the association told the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services yesterday. “Third-party payment of premiums – whether by a family member, a community-based organization, a government program, providers or a charitable organization – is an important tool for expanding coverage for vulnerable Americans,” wrote AHA, responding to the agency’s recent request for information on the issue. “Indeed, access to coverage and routine health care should take precedent over any concerns about the risk pool, which can be addressed through other policy vehicles and through broader enrollment of younger, healthier individuals. The AHA urges CMS to prioritize the needs of vulnerable Americans by explicitly requiring qualified health plans to accept third-party premium and cost-sharing payments from hospitals, hospital-affiliated foundations and other charitable organizations for individuals not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.”