In This Edition:
From Kaiser Health News:
Medical residents at George Washington University spend three weeks examining and diagnosing the nation’s health care system. (Julie Rovner, 6/10)
Investigators from the GAO call for HHS to improve oversight of the Medicare appeals process and streamline it to make sure repetitive claims are handled more efficiently. (Susan Jaffe, 6/10)
A survey of officials at life insurance companies finds that many factor in marijuana use when considering coverage, but they are often concerned about the frequency of use. (Michelle Andrews, 6/10)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Just YouTube It'" by Jerry King.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
FREE SURGERY FOR EMPLOYEES
Firms take new approach:
Save money, drive quality.
Bundled payments grow.
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.
Summaries Of The News:
The New York Times takes a look at the Geisinger Health Plan's efforts to provide care to the community it serves as a means to explore why health care expenses and insurance premiums continue to rise. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell took steps to quell the doubts of insurers who participate in Obamacare exchanges.
The New York Times: Why Do Health Costs Keep Rising? These People Know
The Geisinger Health Plan, run by one of the nation’s top-rated health care organizations, foresees medical costs increasing next year by 7.5 percent for people buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act. So when Geisinger requested a rate increase of 40 percent for 2017, consumer advocates were amazed. And Kurt J. Wrobel, Geisinger’s chief actuary, found himself, along with other members of his profession, in the middle of the health care wars still raging in this political year. Actuaries normally toil far from the limelight, anonymous technicians stereotyped as dull and boring. But as they crunch the numbers for their Affordable Care Act business, their calculations are feeding a roaring national debate over insurance premiums, widely used to gauge the success of President Obama’s health care law. (Pear, 6/9)
The Hill: Health Chief Makes Case To Insurers For ObamaCare Marketplace
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell on Thursday sought to calm the nerves of health insurers increasingly in doubt about the fate of the ObamaCare marketplace. (Ferris 6/9)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Feds Tout Health Insurance Exchange Successes As Some Question Viability
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday trotted out insurance executives who have found success selling health plans to individuals via the online insurance exchanges, a key part of the Affordable Care Act. (Liss 6/9)
Outlets also report on health law news in Alaska and Ohio —
Politico: Alaska Scrambles To Prevent Obamacare Collapse
Alaska, one of the reddest states in the country, is essentially bailing out its insurance market to prevent Obamacare from collapsing. A bill passed by the heavily GOP state Legislature to shore up its lone surviving Obamacare insurer is awaiting the signature of Gov. Bill Walker, a Republican-turned-independent who was endorsed two years ago by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The legislation, originally proposed by Walker, sets up a $55 million fund — financed through an existing tax on all insurance companies — to subsidize enrollees’ costs as the state struggles with Obamacare price spikes and an exodus by all but one insurance company. (Pradhan, 6/10)
The Cleveland Plain Dealer: As Obamacare Plans Struggle, MetroHealth Offers An Alternative To Individual Insurance
As stewards of a hospital that serves a large Medicaid population, executives with MetroHealth have supported the Affordable Care Act, which expanded insurance coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income Ohioans. But that doesn't mean they don't see flaws in the landmark law. On Wednesday, the health system rolled out a program aimed in part at catering to people unhappy with the cost and complexities of their Obamacare plans. The program, called Select Direct, will allow patients to get primary care services by paying a fixed monthly fee. (Ross, 6/9)
The enrollment was aided by the state's coordination with other groups that serve low-income families. Meanwhile in Utah, many residents push for a Medicaid extension for an additional 16,000 people.
The (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate: Nearly 200K Medicaid Enrollees Signed Up In Expansion’s First Week
Nearly 200,000 people have signed up for Medicaid in the first week of Louisiana’s expanded health care eligibility, state officials say. ... Enrollment began June 1, and the latest tally released Wednesday — 197,026 — includes thousands who have been reached through the Louisiana Department of Health partnering with other groups that serve the working poor and low-income families and have similar eligibility requirements. (Crisp, 6/8)
Salt Lake Tribune: Many Utahns Still Calling For Full-Scale Medicaid Expansion
The state has received more than 130 comments on its plan to extend Medicaid to fewer than 16,000 Utahns — and many of those commenters still are calling for full-scale expansion. After years of debate and protests over Medicaid expansion, the state legislature this year passed — and the governor signed — a small-scale plan. Initially estimated to expand coverage to about 16,000 people, the current proposal would cover only about 9,000 to 11,000 of the poorest Utahns. (Stuckey, 6/9)
In Missouri, a new law will help some people with Medicaid —
St. Louis Public Radio: Nixon Signs Medicaid Expansion For Missouri's Elderly And People With Disabilities
Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation on Thursday that could expand Medicaid eligibility for Missourians who are elderly or living with a disability. For decades, Missourians who were elderly, blind or disabled could only have $1,000 or less in savings. The bill Nixon signed would gradually raise that asset limit to $5,000 for an unmarried person and $10,000 for a married couple. (Bouscaren and Rosenbaum 6/9)
The Associated Press: New Missouri Law To Let Some Medicaid Recipients Save More
Missouri seniors, the blind and those with disabilities soon will be able to save more money but still qualify for Medicaid health care benefits under a new law signed Thursday by Gov. Jay Nixon. The idea behind the bill, which passed with bipartisan support in the GOP-led Legislature, is to allow people who receive health care through the state program to keep more in savings that could help pay for unexpected expenses. Nixon said the new law will help “thousands of Missourians live more independent lives.” (6/9)
Meanwhile, several reports look at the effects of Medicaid expansion —
Morning Consult: Report: Uncompensated Medical Care Costs Drop, Mostly in Medicaid Expansion States
Hospital costs for uncompensated care have decreased in states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but have remained stagnant in the states that have not, a report released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation says. Uncompensated care is how hospitals measure the care provided throughout the year for which they don’t receive any payment, which can lead to hospitals incurring bad debt. Total uncompensated care in 2013 cost $34.9 billions in hospitals nationwide, with about $16.7 billion incurring in states that expanded the program and $18.1 billion in states that did not. In 2014, total costs fell to $28.9 billion nationwide, falling about 17 percent. Nearly all the decrease occurred in expansion states, the report says. (McIntire, 6/9)
Kansas Health Institute: New Study: Health Providers Struggle In States That Don’t Expand Medicaid
A new study by Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute found stark differences between states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act and those — like Kansas and Missouri — that haven’t. (Thompson 6/9)
The measure, which provides appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services and other government agencies, has drawn rare bipartisan support. Also on Capitol Hill, a measure was introduced in the House which would direct HHS to train health professionals to identify patients who are victims of human trafficking. Meanwhile, House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., is skeptical about the prospects of attaching a pending mental health reform bill to legislation focused on opioid abuse.
The Hill: Rarity In Senate: Health Bill Advances With Bipartisan Support
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced its health spending bill to the Senate floor, drawing bipartisan support for the measure for t
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