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to health insurance coverage if there is a State law that meets certain criteria outlined in the

NMHPA exception. Currently, there are many States that have such laws meeting the NMHPA

exception. Commenters have asked the Departments to clarify the applicability of federal law in

these States as well as in other States that do not have a law meeting NMHPA’s criteria.

On June 26, 1997 the Departments of Labor and HHS issued a Request for Information

(RFI) inviting comments on the NMHPA provisions. After consideration of the many comments

received in response to the Departments' RFI and in light of the outstanding questions relating to

the substance and applicability of NMHPA, the Departments have determined that it is

appropriate to issue interim final rules at this time to ensure that group health plans and health

insurance issuers have timely guidance before they prepare their open season materials in

anticipation of the 1999 plan year. (More than one half of plans begin their fiscal years on January

1.) Written comments on these interim rules are invited.


Executive Order 12866, Effect of the Statute, and Paperwork Reduction Act — The Departments of Labor and HHS

Executive Order 12866

Executive Order 12866 requires agencies to assess all costs and benefits of available

regulatory alternatives, and when regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that

maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety

effects; distributive impacts; and equity). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 requires

agencies to prepare a regulatory impact analysis for any rule that is deemed a “significant

regulatory action” according to specified criteria. This includes whether the rule may have an

annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or certain other specified effects, or


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