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Healthcare Reform News Update for June 26, 2017

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 26, 2017

Updates on the Senate’s Position with the Healthcare Bill

The New York Times continues to update Senators’ standings on the GOP’s healthcare reform bill. Here are the numbers as they currently stand:

  • 48—no
  • 8—no without changes, or concerned
  • 27—undecided
  • 17—yes

Kaiser Family Foundation Publishes a Topical Comparison of 3 Healthcare Reform Bills

The Kaiser Family Foundation has published an in-depth comparison of three healthcare reform bills: Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (the Senate’s healthcare bill), the American Health Care Act (AHCA, the House’s healthcare bill), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare). The comparison, starting with a summary and then making comparisons based on topic, can be viewed here.

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 23, 2017

Senators’ Current Positions on the GOP’s Healthcare ‘Discussion Draft’

All Democratic Senators (48) are expected to vote against the Republican Senate’s healthcare reform bill. That leaves 52 Republican Senators to vote in favor of the bill. The bill needs 50 votes in favor in order to pass (which will leave a tie breaker that Republicans expect to win). Here are the current standings on the remaining 52 votes according to The New York Times.

  • 7 Senators are likely to vote against the bill if further changes are not made or if their concerns with the current bill’s language are not addressed.
    • Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, and Rand Paul have required further repeal of the Affordable Care Act in order to vote in favor of the bill.
    • Susan Collins, Dean Heller, and Rob Portman have expressed concerns over the cuts to Medicaid.
  • 28 Senators are undecided.
  • 17 Senators are in favor of the bill.

The Washing Post also counts Senators Shelley More Capito and Lisa Murkowski among those who are likely to vote against the bill over its current language. The site also only lists 16 Senators supporting the current bill.

President Trump Supports the Senate’s Healthcare Bill While Obama Denounces It

In a tweet posted on Thursday evening, President Donald Trump said, “I am very supportive of the Senate #HealthcareBill. Look forward to making it really special! Remember, Obamacare is dead.” He was even supportive of the four conservative Republican Senators who have already voiced their opposition to the bill’s current language, saying, “They’re four good guys and they’re friends of mine. We have four very good people, and it’s not that they’re opposed. They’d like to get certain changes, and we’ll see if we can take care of that.”

Former President Barack Obama had stronger, more negative words for the Senate bill. Obama wrote, “The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family — this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”

Ways to Compare the Senate’s Healthcare Reform Bill to Previous Bills

There are several simple ways that you can compare the Senate’s healthcare bill to the House-approved American Health Care Act (AHCA) or the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare). These news sources have done so, using easy-to-review charts and comparisons.

What Are the Senate Bill’s Next Steps?

The Senate has finally produced a draft of its healthcare reform bill. Now, that draft will go through the following processes to become law or be voted down:

  1. The Congressional Budget Office will analyze the bill, which is expected to be finished early next week.
  2. The Senate will debate the bill. Senators will also have the opportunity to offer amendments to the bill.
  3. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can offer the final amendment to the healthcare bill.
  4. The Senate will vote on the bill and amendments.
    • If the bill passes, the House will either need to reconcile the bill with their own or approve the Senate version. If the bill is reconciled, both the Senate and the House will need to vote on the final bill again.
    • If the bill does not pass, the bill does not move forward.
  5. If a final bill passes both the Senate and the House, the bill will be sent to the President for his signature.

Humana Won’t Return to Individual Market, Even With Healthcare Reform

During an interview, Humana CEO Bruce Broussard announced that Humana will not return to the individual health insurance market. Broussard said, “This is just not a business that we will be good at. No matter what they do in Washington, we are not going to go back in. And we’ve had a lot of people ask us from Washington D.C. if we would go back in and we’ve said no, it’s not there.”

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 22, 2017

Senate Republicans Release ‘Discussion Draft’ of GOP’s Healthcare Reform Bill

This Morning, Senate Republicans released their healthcare reform bill’s “discussion draft”. The 142-page bill:

  • Makes deep cuts to Medicaid
  • Puts the Medicaid program on a closed budget
    • States would choose to receive funding as a block grant or per capita (a set amount per enrollee).
  • Phases out Medicaid expansion
    • The phase out would begin in 2020, gradually reducing the increased funding given for expansion over 4 years.
  • Ends the individual and employer mandates
    • Unlike the House-approved bill, individuals who let their coverage lapse will not be penalized with a surcharge
  • Creates a new system of tax credits to replace health insurance subsidies
    • Unlike the House-approved bill, tax credits will take into account income and geography in addition to age.
  • Allows states to opt-out of many benefit requirements in the Affordable Care Act (like emergency services, mental health treatment, and maternity care)
  • Repeals the tax increases created by the Affordable Care Act
  • Provides $50 billion (over 4 years) to states to stabilize health insurance markets
  • Provides funding (for 2 years) for cost-sharing reduction payments
  • Keeps the popular Affordable Care Act feature of allowing children to stay on a parent’s plan until the age of 26

The Senate’s bill maintains the structure of the House-approved healthcare bill, but it is more moderate that the House’s AHCA (increasing financial assistance). Even with these adjustments the bill is still relatively conservative.

A vote on the Senate’s bill is expected to happen next week (after 20 hours of debate), with a Congressional Budget Office analysis expected in the next few days.

Republican Senators Voice Skepticism About Short Healthcare Vote Timeline

During an interview Wednesday, Republican Senator Ron Johnson voiced his uncertainty about holding a healthcare vote next week. The senator said, “I have a hard time believing anybody will have enough time to have a true evaluation and get (public) input on this by next week. … I am going to need the information to justify a yes vote. I’ll need the information to vote on a very imperfect bill that doesn’t even come close to doing the things that I want to see done.”

On Wednesday, Republican Bill Cassidy told MSNBC, “If I don’t get to read it, I don’t vote for it. If I don’t get to study it, I don’t vote for it.”

Will Hundreds of Amendments Stall the Senate’s Healthcare Reform Vote?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised that senators will have the opportunity to bring any amendment to the floor during a healthcare reform vote. Democrats could use hundreds of proposed amendments to stall a healthcare vote. McConnell has the equal opportunity to cut off the multiple amendment votes if he calls them a delay tactic.

Anthem and Farm Bureau Health Plans Will Exit Certain ACA Marketplaces

Wednesday, Anthem announced plans to exit the Indiana and Wisconsin marketplaces for 2018. In a statement, spokesperson Leslie Porras explained the company’s exit: “Today, planning and pricing for ACA-compliant health plans has become increasingly difficult due to a shrinking and deteriorating individual market, as well as continual changes and uncertainty in federal operations, rules and guidance, including cost-sharing reduction subsidies and the restoration of taxes on fully insured coverage.”

Farm Bureau Health Plans has also announced that it will not sell marketplace plans in 2018 due to projected losses of more than $15 million. The CEO, Anthony Kimbrough, put out this statement to explain the company’s exit from the marketplace: “Congress has yet to agree to new legislation and CMS Administrator Seema Verma acknowledges rule changes proposed by the department are only temporary corrections … not a long-term cure for the problems that the Affordable Care Act has created in our healthcare system. So our decision is not solely about the year 2017; it is about the lack of a clearly drawn long-term solution from where things are today.” Farm Bureau Health Plans covered more than 25,000 Tennessee residents.

FDA to Hold Public Hearings on Drug Manufacturers Potentially Gaming the System

In order to investigate ways that drug makers could be manipulating federal regulations, the Food and Drug Administration will hold a public hearing next month. “The hearing, scheduled for July 18, is the latest step taken by newly installed FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to have the agency take a more active role in policing drug prices.”

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 21, 2017

Senate’s Healthcare Bill to Be Released for Review Thursday

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters a “discussion draft” of the GOP’s healthcare reform bill would be sent out Thursday. McConnell said that reporters would also have access to the draft, and a Senate vote on the bill is likely to occur next week.

Thursday will be the first time many senators see the GOP’s bill, including those meant to be working on it.

  • Senator Mike Lee, who was part of the 13-member working group meant to create the Senate bill, said he hasn’t seen a draft. “It has become increasingly apparent in the past few days that even though we thought we were going to be in charge of writing this bill within this working group, it’s not being written by us. So, if you’re frustrated by the lack of transparency in this process, I share your frustration — I share it wholeheartedly,” Lee said.
  • Senator Rob Portman, another member of the 13-member working group, also told reporters that he hasn’t seen a draft.

Senators have voiced their reluctance to support a bill they’ve yet to review thoroughly, making it hard to tell if a vote held next week would pass.

CSR Payments Made in June, But There’s No Guarantee They’ll Continue

The Trump Administration has made cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidy payments for June. However, the administration has not clarified whether these payments will continue through the rest of the year (or into 2018). Press secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, Caitlin Oakley, put out this statement: “The June payment has been made. We are weighing our options and still evaluating the issues. Congress could resolve any uncertainty about the payments by passing the [American Health Care Act] AHCA and reforming Obamacare’s failed funding structure.”

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 20, 2017

Senate Expected to Vote on Healthcare Bill Next Week

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) told Fox News that Senate Republicans are planning to vote on a healthcare bill next week. “I believe we’re going to vote before the Fourth of July recess on a healthcare plan, a repeal and replacement of Obamacare,” Barrasso said.

Lawmakers, and the public, have yet to see the Senate’s bill. If the week goes smoothly, “Senators are expected to see the text of the bill as soon as the end of this week.”

Will the Senate’s Healthcare Bill Have Enough Support From All Republicans?

With much of the Senate’s policy focus on winning over moderates, the GOP risks alienating conservatives in the Senate and the House.

  • In the Senate: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has said that he will not support legislation that creates a new Republican entitlement program (specifically refundable tax credits). Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have been pressing the Senate to allow states to opt out of guaranteed issue and community rating provisions to win their support. “Guaranteed issue mandates that insurance companies sell insurance plans to people regardless of how sick they are, and … community rating prohibits insurance companies from pricing those plans to reflect the greater financial risk of insuring people with pre-existing medical conditions.”
  • In the House: The Republican Study Committee (RSC) is the largest conservative group in the House. The RSC warned GOP Senators that if the bill goes too far toward moderates, it will die in the House. The conservative group listed four provisions that it finds necessary in the Senate’s healthcare bill.

Democratic Senators Prepared to Slow Down Senate Over Closed-Door Healthcare Reform

Democrats are prepared to use procedural rules to slow down the Senate’s processes if Republicans continue creating healthcare reform behind closed doors. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “If Republicans won’t relent and debate their healthcare bill in the open for the American people to see, then they shouldn’t expect business as usual in the Senate.”

Senate’s Healthcare Bill Could Have Deeper Medicaid Cuts Than the AHCA

According to aides and lobbyists, the Senate has sent a Medicaid spending proposal — one that may “make even deeper cuts to Medicaid spending than the bill passed by the House” — to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for analysis. The Medicaid proposal “would start out the growth rate for a new cap on Medicaid spending at the same levels as the House bill, but then drop to a lower growth rate that would cut spending more, known as CPI-U, starting in 2025.”

Health Insurance Companies Work to Stay in State Marketplaces

While many health insurance companies have made the tough decision to exit the Marketplace, these companies are planning to stick around to provide coverage in these states.

  • Washington: Premera Blue Cross will continue selling plans in a county that may have been left without any options. Only one county in Washington state remains without a marketplace option.
  • Illinois: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, the state’s largest health insurance company, has submitted rates for 2018. However, the company has not fully committed to selling plans in 2018.
  • Iowa: The only carrier left in the state, Medica, plans to keep selling plans in 2018. However, premium rates could increase by 43.5{472e2d0a599b2ae7ec803ff6ad6b1772836303ea28b0dcef051e667f9dd155f0}.

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 19, 2017

Senate’s Lack of Transparency With Healthcare Bill Raises Bipartisan Concerns

The lack of transparency and speedy process surrounding the Senate’s healthcare bill is raising concerns for both Republican and Democratic senators.

  • Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling an “emergency healthcare hearing,” which is scheduled for Monday. The senator told the Hartford Courant that the committee writing the healthcare reform bill is “a small group of Republicans meeting in secret, [and] none of us on the Democratic side have a clue as to what they’re doing. … How do we vote in the next few weeks on a bill that has not been … reduced to writing, that has been done in secret without any kind of public hearing?”
  • On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer reached out to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Schumer asked that an all-senator meeting be held on Friday to discuss the bill.
  • Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski expressed unhappiness with the secrecy of the healthcare bill’s deliberations. She told the Alaska Dispatch News, “I think that we do better as a body when we respect the process. And the process allows for committee involvement, debate and discussion. … If I’m not going to see a bill before we have a vote on it, that’s just not a good way to handle something that is as significant and important as healthcare.”
  • During an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio advised against rushing a secretive healthcare bill through the Senate. “The Senate is not a place where you can just cook up something behind closed doors and rush it for a vote on the floor,” Rubio said. “Every camera in the world’s going to have to see what’s in it.”

Senate Democrats Planning Late-Night Protest of GOP’s Healthcare Reform Plan

According to a Senate aide, Democratic Senators are planning to hold late-night speeches on the Senate floor Monday. The speeches are expected to last until at least midnight, with the main focus on protesting the GOP’s healthcare replacement plan.

Democratic Senators are also considering using other rules to halt Senate procedures, like preventing “any Senate committees from meeting after the Senate had been in session for two hours” and “objecting to routine requests on votes.”

7 Governors Write Bipartisan Healthcare Appeal Letter to Senate Leaders

On Friday, 7 governors sent letters to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. In the letter, the governors asked that Congress “focus on health care reform that cuts costs while promoting market stability and giving states more flexibility.” The letter also urges “Congress to scrap the GOP health care bill and work toward a bipartisan solution.”

Where Are 6 Major Healthcare Reform Policies Headed?

Speculation continues for what will end up in the Senate’s healthcare reform bill. According to the Hill, here is where these 6 controversial policies seem to be headed.

  1. Medicaid expansion will have a slower phase-out. Something between Senator Rob Portman’s proposed 7-year phase-out and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 3-year phase-out is expected to be in a final bill.
  2. Tax credits proposed in the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) will increase. Senator John Thune has been tasked with creating a tax credit structure that will provide more assistance to lower-income and older Americans. Thune’s tax credits are expected to be tied to age and income.
  3. Some Obamacare taxes will remain, at least for a while. These will help fund tax credits, among other healthcare allowances.
  4. More funding (than provided in the AHCA) will be provided to fight the opioid crisis. This is in part to assure senators worried that the phase-out of Medicaid expansion will hurt opioid addiction treatment.
  5. The bill will attempt to stabilize the individual health insurance Marketplace. This could be done by funding cost-sharing reductions.
  6. Funding to support those with pre-existing conditions will increase. After criticism that the AHCA underfunds high-risk pools for those with pre-existing conditions, the Senate’s bill is expected to increase this funding.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval Signs Strict Insulin Pricing Legislation into Law

Thursday, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed “the nation’s strictest requirements for pharmaceutical companies to reveal how they set certain prescription drug prices” into law. The law focuses on insulin, requiring “drugmakers to annually disclose the list prices they set, profits they make and discounts they give market middlemen on insulin.” Drugmakers must also “give state officials written explanations of any insulin price hikes that surpass the previous year’s inflation rate, or are higher than twice the inflation rate of the previous two years.”

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 16, 2017

Senator Lamar Alexander Calls for CSR Payments to Be Funded Through 2019

Senator Lamar Alexander is the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. At a hearing on Thursday, Alexander recommended that funding for cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments continue through 2019. Alexander said during the hearing, “The payments will help to avoid the real possibility that millions of Americans will literally have zero options for insurance in the individual market in 2018.”

Senator Rand Paul Criticizes “New Entitlements” in the Senate’s Healthcare Bill

Conservative Senator Rand Paul has denounced two important aspects of the Republican healthcare bill, each of which are seen in the House’s and the Senate’s healthcare bills. Refundable tax credits (which help people afford individual healthcare plans) and a “stabilization fund” (which helps lower premiums) are being called new entitlements by Paul.

Paul told reporters, “I think we shouldn’t have new entitlements that will go on forever in a Republican plan to fix healthcare. We can’t pay for what we already have: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”

Trump Administration to Address Drug Pricing With New Executive Orders

On Friday, President Trump is scheduled to meet with key officials to discuss an executive order aimed at lowering prescription drug pricing. The order “could be to direct federal agencies to pursue value-based purchasing contracts for drugs.” Another policy being discussed “would instruct agencies to pursue trade policies that would strengthen the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies.”

Neither of the executive orders under discussion would cause drastic changes to the pharmaceutical industry.

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 15, 2017

Four Democrats Introduce a Reinsurance Bill

Four Democratic Senators (including Tim Kaine and Tom Carper) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would make reinsurance a permanent component of the Obamacare individual marketplace. Specifically, the bill “would provide federal funding to cover 80{472e2d0a599b2ae7ec803ff6ad6b1772836303ea28b0dcef051e667f9dd155f0} of claims from $50,000 to $500,000, starting next year, with the same level of support through 2020.” The bill would also help states improve enrollment by dedicating $500 million in federal funding each year (for the next three years).

Marketplace Rate Hikes Continue as Senate Works Through Healthcare Reform 

Health insurance companies are filing proposed health insurance rates for individuals’ plans on and off the marketplace. In order to recoup losses, and prepare for funding provided through Obamacare to discontinue, many companies are filing double digit rate increases. These states are in recent news for their premium rate hikes:

  • Michigan: If cost-sharing reduction subsidies are defunded, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan could increase rates by up to 31%.
  • Connecticut: Anthem, one of Connecticut’s largest insurance companies, has requested a 33.8% rate increase for plans sold on and off the exchange. ConnectiCare has requested a 17.5% increase for its plans on the marketplace and a 28.3% increase for its plans off the marketplace.

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 14, 2017

CMS Actuary Publishes AHCA Analysis That Differs Greatly From CBO’s

On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary published an “Estimated Financial Effect of the ‘American Health Care Act of 2017’.” Here are the main takeaways from the CMS Office of the Actuary’s analysis:

  • The AHCA will cause 12.6 million more Americans to become uninsured in the next 10 years.
  • The AHCA will reduce federal spending by $328 billion in the next 10 years.
    • The CBO’s analysis estimated that federal funding would be reduced by $119 billion.*
  • Under the AHCA, the average premium will be 13%lower in 2026 for individuals without subsidies.
  • Taking subsidies into account, premiums will increase by 5% and out-of-pocket costs will increase by 61%.
  • The CMS analysis excludes the estimated effects of taxes repealed in the AHCA.
  • The CMS analysis does not “reflect the possibility that some states could obtain waivers under the AHCA that severely limit what benefits must be covered or allow insurers to charge higher premiums for people with expensive medical conditions.”
    • According to the CMS actuary, if states did receive such waivers “we would expect that the individual market in these areas would destabilize such that the premiums for comprehensive coverage for a significant proportion of the population would become unaffordable and the coverage would cease to be offered.”

*The estimates found in the CMS Office of the Actuary’s analysis and the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis vary due to “differing assumptions about whether cost-saving measures in the House bill will work.”

Centene to Enter 3 New States in 2018, Expand Its Presence in 6 More

On Tuesday, Centene announced plans to enter the Marketplace in Kansas, Missouri, and Nevada in 2018. The company will also expand its presence in 6 states that it currently participates in (Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Texas, and Washington).

Michael F. Neidorff, chairman, president, and CEO of Centene, released this statement: “Centene recognizes there is uncertainty of new healthcare legislation, but we are well positioned to continue providing accessible, high-quality and culturally sensitive healthcare services to our members. Centene has demonstrated disciplined execution, agility and capacity to successfully navigate industry changes to the benefit of our members, customers and shareholders.”

Aetna May Offer Plans in Nevada After All

Despite sharing plans to exit the market, Aetna filed premium rates for the Nevada individual marketplace for 2018. Although it has filed rates, Aetna has not made a final decision on whether or not to participate in Nevada.

Trump Urges Senators to Draft a More “Generous” Healthcare Bill

President Trump met with Republican Senators on Tuesday during a White House lunch and discussed their in-progress healthcare bill. During the lunch, the President called the House’s AHCA “mean” and asked Senators to create a bill that was “more generous.”

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 9, 2017

Chairman of House Committee Calls for CSR Continuation

Kevin Brady, a Republican and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has called for the continuation of cost-sharing reduction subsidies (CSRs) in order to stabilize the individual market. “We should act within our constitutional authority now to temporarily and legally fund cost-sharing reduction payments as we move away from Obamacare. Insurers have made clear the lack of certainty is causing 2018 proposed premiums to rise significantly,” Brady stated.

Senate Parliamentarian Flags Language in AHCA That May Not Be Allowed

Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate Parliamentarian, has found language that she warns may not meet reconciliation. The Hyde Amendment is a part of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that disallows people from using refundable tax credits for private insurance plans that cover abortions. MacDonough has flagged this amendment, warning Republicans that it is “unlikely to be allowed.”

A precedent set in 1995 may support MacDonough’s warning. Robert Dove, the Senate Parliamentarian in 1995, “ruled that an abortion provision affecting a state block grant program failed to meet reconciliation requirements.”

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 8, 2017

What’s Going into the Senate’s Healthcare Bill?

As the Senate works to come to a consensus on dividing aspects of healthcare reform, there is an ongoing discussion over what will end up in the finalized bill. Here is a short breakdown of how the Senate is progressing through those aspects of healthcare reform.

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 7, 2017

McConnell Tells Trump: Expect Healthcare Vote by July 4

During a meeting held Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told President Donald Trump that the Senate may vote on healthcare reform by July 4. McConnell also said he expects the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to score the Senate’s healthcare bill soon, at least on portions that it has submitted for review.

In a joint statement, McConnell and Paul Ryan said this about the meeting: “We had a good, productive meeting with President Trump, Vice President Pence, and congressional leadership. The discussion focused on the continued progress of our shared legislative agenda and how we can accomplish our goals.”

Budget Committee Approves Senate’s Healthcare Bill

On Tuesday, the Senate Budget Committee announced that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) fulfills reconciliation rules and can officially move on to the Senate.

Some State Waivers May Remain in the Senate’s Healthcare Bill

According to senior GOP aides, the following state waivers could be in the Senate healthcare bill:

  • Essential Benefits
  • Medical Loss Ratio Requirement (a “regulation on how much of [insurance companies’] premium revenue must be spent on claims”)
  • Age Rating Band (The ACA allows “older people to be charged no more than three times as much as younger people.”)

The ACA’s requirements for insurance companies to insure people with pre-existing conditions, and the prohibition on charging those individuals more for coverage, are not likely to be included in state-allowed waivers.

Anthem Leaves Ohio Marketplace Over Unstable Market

On Tuesday, Anthem announced that it will not offer plans on the individual marketplace in Ohio for 2018. The company cited “volatility in the individual insurance market and uncertainty over funding for cost-sharing subsidies” as its reasons for exiting the exchange. Anthem’s exit will leave at least 18 counties with no marketplace options, affecting around 10,500 residents.

In a statement Anthem said, “Today, planning and pricing for ACA-compliant health plans has become increasingly difficult due to the shrinking individual market as well as continual changes in federal operations, rules and guidance.”

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 6, 2017

Senate Pushing for June Healthcare Vote

The Senate is under pressure to vote on healthcare reform and move onto tax reform before the August recess.

Although the Senate drafted portions of its bill during a recent recess, the draft leaves out many polarizing topics (like Medicaid expansion). In order to come to a consensus on the unresolved — and included — policy decisions, the GOP has scheduled a meeting Tuesday. Senate Republicans will be “presented with legislative options … with the goal of making decisions on what is in and what’s out of their bill.”

Whether or not the final bill is expected to pass, the Republican Senate is planning to vote on its healthcare bill as soon as this month.

New York’s Governor Takes Steps to Keep Obamacare Mandates, Repeal or Not

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced plans to prevent the removal of Obamacare safeguards in the individual market in New York. The plans “include requiring any private company doing business on the state’s insurance marketplace to guarantee the 10 ‘essential health benefits’ … [and directs] the state’s health department to block any company that withdraws from the exchange from participating in Medicaid or its children’s health plan.”

Minuteman Health in New Hampshire Requests 30% Premium Rate Increases

During an interview Monday, Minuteman Health Chief Executive Officer Tom Policelli revealed a premium rate increase around 30%for 2018. The company blamed the high “increase on two provisions of the health care law — Medicaid expansion and federally imposed risk adjustments.”

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 5, 2017

State Insurance Commissioners Working to Keep Insurance Companies in the Market

For many state insurance regulators, keeping insurance companies in the individual market is their ultimate goal. In order to combat marketplace uncertainty, and keep health insurance companies in the market, state insurance commissioners are becoming increasingly flexible.

  • The insurance superintendent of New Mexico, John Franchini, said: “As a regulator, instead of being rigid on timelines, the type of pricing I’m going to want, I’m being more open about this. I’m trying to be more flexible to give them confidence that if things change, we as regulators will be flexible with them.”
  • The insurance commissioner for California, Dave Jones, said: “Based on what we were hearing from insurers, we anticipated Trump rates would be double-digit increases over the past year. I wanted to give insurers the opportunity to file rates based on Trump.”

In California, insurance companies may file two premium rate requests (one if Obamacare rules are upheld and one if they are eliminated).

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 2, 2017

Pennsylvania Insurance Companies File Low Rate Increases, But Only If Obamacare Rules Continue

Teresa Miller, Pennsylvania’s Insurance Commissioner, reported low aggregate rate increases (8.8% for the state’s 5 insurance companies in 2018. But this low increase will only go into effect if the individual mandate is upheld and cost-sharing reduction subsidies (CSRs) are funded.

  • If the mandate is repealed, rates could increase by 23.3% in the state.
  • If CSRs are no longer funded, rates could increase by 20%.
  • If they are both eliminated, rates could increase as much as 36%.

Senator Richard Burr Does Not Expect to Pass a Healthcare Reform Bill This Year

On Thursday, Republican Senator Richard Burr appeared on a North Carolina news station. During the interview, he painted a less-than-optimistic portrait of the Senate’s ability to pass healthcare reform laws in the next 6 months. “It’s unlikely that we will get a healthcare deal. I don’t see a comprehensive healthcare plan this year,” Burr said.

Healthcare Reform News Update for June 1, 2017

John Cornyn Promises Healthcare Reform Bill This Summer

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn appeared on The Chad Hasty Show Wednesday. During his appearance, he asserted that the Senate would finish an Obamacare repeal bill by the end of the summer. “We’ll get it done by the end of July at the latest,” Cornyn said during the interview.

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