Letter to HHS Calling for an Extension of the Comment Period

January 11, 2012

PDF attachment below.


The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius

Secretary of Health and Human Services

The Hubert H. Humphrey Building

200 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20201


January 11, 2012


Dear Secretary Sebelius:


We, the undersigned, are health advocacy organizations representing millions of patients and their families who will be dramatically impacted by the way in which Essential Health Benefits are defined. We are writing to ask that you allow us more time in which to offer comments in response to the Bulletin on Essential Benefits you announced on December 16, 2011.


The design of the Essential Health Benefits will directly impact the scope of health benefits and the well-being of over 70 million patients.  Beneficiaries affected will be those covered in non-grandfathered plans in the individual and small group markets, the Medicaid benchmark, and other Basic Health Programs.  Basically, these benefit sets will have far reaching implications for our entire health system.  Weighing in on this decision is far too important to be done with anything less than careful and intensive deliberation.


A number of factors lead to a request for an extension of time:  1) the large number of people affected; 2) the enormous complexity of the issues which must be considered; 3) the fact that the Bulletin was released just before the long holiday period; and 4) the very short 45 day comment period.  Therefore, we respectfully request that the comment period be extended by an additional 45 days until March 15, 2012.


Thank you very much.




AIDS Action Committee of MA

AIDS Foundation of Chicago

The AIDS Institute

AIDS United

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association

American Lung Association

American Nurses Association

American Society of Addiction Medicine

The Arc of Illinois

Arthritis Foundation

California Institute for Mental Health

California Society of Addiction Medicine

California Mental Health Directors Association

Campaign for Better Health Care, Illinois

Citizen Action/Illinois

Clinical Social Work Association

Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)

Community Catalyst

County Alcohol & Drug Program Administrators Association of California

Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America


Epilepsy Foundation

Harm Reduction Coalition

Health & Disability Advocates


Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights

Illinois Alcoholism & Drug Dependence Association

Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities

Illinois Chiropractic Society

Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition

Illinois Public Health Association

International Pemphigus Pemphigoid Foundation

Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (LAF)

Lifelong AIDS Alliance

Lupus Foundation of America

Lupus Foundation of Mid and Northern New York, Inc.

Lupus Research Institute National Coalition

Men's Health Network

Mental Health America

Michigan Association of CMH Boards

Minnesota Recovery Connection

Nashville CARES

National Alliance for Hispanic Health

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers

National Association of County Behavioral Health and Development Directors

National Association of Hispanic Nurses

National Athletic Trainers' Association

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD)

The National Grange

National Minority Quality Forum

National Organization for Rare Disorders

National Patient Advocate Foundation

National Psoriasis Foundation

National Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities

National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable

National Women’s Law Center

National Women's AIDS Collective (NWAC)

The Neuropathy Association

OWL - The Voice For Midlife and Older Women

Parkinson's Action Network

Platelet Disorder Support Association

Prevent Cancer Foundation 

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association


Scleroderma Foundation, Inc.

Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation

Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR)

State Associations of Addiction Services

Tennessee AIDS Advocacy Network

Treatment Communities of America

Veterans Health Council

Vietnam Veterans of America

The Watershed

WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease