In This Edition:
From Kaiser Health News:
Some Veterans Affairs’ hospitals are cutting vets’ long waits for outpatient care appointments by authorizing specially-trained pharmacists to treat certain patients with chronic care needs. (Phil Galewitz, 10/25)
The federal government's first in-depth review reveals errors such as wrong addresses and incorrect phone numbers riddle many directories used by Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. (Phil Galewitz, 10/24)
Traditional Medicare does not cover most dental needs and the private Medicare Advantage plans often have limited coverage, leaving most seniors struggling to pay for dental care out of pocket. (Michelle Andrews, 10/25)
A major study in Philadelphia will look at whether it is better for people with gunshot or stab wounds to get basic care from paramedics or more advanced care before going to the hospital, as most do now. (Aaron Moselle, WHYY, 10/25)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Job Security'" by Dan Piraro.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
MEDICARE ADVANTAGE MISHAPS
Are full of errors – uh-oh --
Need real-time updates.
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 Obama administration says customers buying insurance from the exchanges will still be able to find plans for less than $100 a month with help from federal subsidies. Republicans, however, pounce on the news of the premium increases as another sign the Affordable Care Act is failing.
The New York Times: Some Health Plan Costs To Increase By An Average Of 25 Percent, U.S. Says
Premiums for midlevel health plans under the Affordable Care Act will increase by an average of 25 percent next year, while consumers in some states will find significantly fewer insurance companies offering coverage, the federal government said Monday. (Pear, 10/24)
The Associated Press: Obama Health Plan Hit By Double-Digit Premium Hikes
Premiums will go up sharply next year under President Barack Obama's health care law, and many consumers will be down to just one insurer, the administration confirmed Monday. That's sure to stoke another "Obamacare" controversy days before a presidential election. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/24)
USA Today: Some Obamacare Rates Rise 25% As Healthcare.Gov Opens For Shopping
As concerns grow about much higher rates in many states, officials emphasized that the vast majority of people shopping on Healthcare.gov will pay less than $100 a month for premiums when tax credits are included. More than 70% of people will pay less than $75 a month after tax credits. (O'Donnell, 10/24)
NPR: Rates Rise Again For Obamacare Health Plans, But So Do Subsidies
"We think they will ultimately be surprised by the affordability of the premiums, because the tax credits track with the increases in premiums," said Kevin Griffis, assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. During a media briefing Monday, Griffis said the 2017 rates are roughly at the level the Congressional Budget Office forecast when the law was proposed. "The initial marketplace rates came in below costs," he said. "Many companies set prices that turned out to be too low." (Kodjak, 10/24)
The Washington Post: Average Premiums For Popular ACA Plans Rising 25 Percent
The figures, announced by federal officials Monday, injected a new round of uncertainty into the future of the insurance exchanges that are a core feature of the 2010 health-care law. Health policy experts said the rising prices and shrinking insurance options add tumult to the coming ACA enrollment season. The data immediately touched off a fresh round of criticism among the ACA’s persistent Republican congressional opponents. (Goldstein, 10/24)
The Hill: Feds: Most States To See Steep ObamaCare Rate Hikes
The White House’s report was released the same day as data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that the cost of a benchmark plan will rise 145 percent in Phoenix, Ariz., to $507 per month for an average 40-year-old person. That same plan will increase 71 percent in Birmingham, Ala., and Oklahoma City, Okla. (Ferris, 10/24)
Politico: Key Obamacare Premiums To Jump 25 Percent Next Year
The Department of Health and Human Services report, released just two weeks before Election Day, is sure to provide fresh fodder for Donald Trump and Republicans in down-ballot races to attack the law. Democrats, who have increasingly warned about the escalating costs of Obamacare coverage in some areas, have pushed for Republicans to give up on repeal and work on fixes to the law. (Pradhan, 10/24)
Morning Consult: Republicans Raise Concerns About Obamacare Subsidies
House Republicans are questioning how much taxpayer money is going into federal subsidies meant to make insurance coverage more affordable for low-income Americans. Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), all leaders of the Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter Monday to Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, requesting information about the amount of taxpayer money that will go toward Obamacare subsidies next year. (McIntire, 10/24)
The Wall Street Journal: ACA Deadline Extended For Those Who Lost Their Health Plans
Hundreds of thousands of consumers whose health insurance plans are being discontinued for 2017 will get some flexibility when signing up for a new plan during the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment, a sign of continued turmoil in the exchange markets. (Armour, 10/24)
Morning Consult: Enrolling People In Obamacare Means Talking About Cost
The Affordable Care Act has put the nation’s uninsured rate to a historic low, but there are still roughly 24 million uninsured people in the United States. Of that group, the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 10.7 million will be eligible for financial assistance this year. Officials expect about one-third of that group to sign up for an Obamacare plan during the three-month open enrollment period beginning Nov. 1. HHS is countering news of median 16 percent premium increases for silver-level plans with messages about the subsidies that may make coverage affordable for a majority of marketplace consumers. (McIntire, 10/24)
Media outlets report on insurance rate news out of Minnesota, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Tennessee and Connecticut.
Pioneer Press: Minnesota Has 4th-Highest Increase Of Insurance Premiums Nationwide
Minnesota’s 59 percent premium increases on its individual health insurance market have been shocking consumers and politicians alike, but they’re not even the highest in the country. ... Among the 43 states with available data, Minnesota has the fourth-highest premium increase, behind Tennessee, Oklahoma and the 116 percent increase in Arizona. All three states use HealthCare.gov. Despite Minnesota’s huge increase, it’s not among the states with the highest 2017 premiums, though it is now above-average in costs. (Montgomery, 10/24)
Chicago Tribune: Illinois Obamacare Premiums Rise By Double-Digits For 2017 Plans
The wait is over: People who want to buy health insurance on the state's Obamacare exchange can go online to see their options and prices, but they may not like what they find. The plans unveiled online Monday contain far fewer choices and significantly higher prices, and arrive toward the end of a presidential campaign in which Republican candidate Donald Trump has called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has said she wants to fix it. (Schencker, 10/24)
Houston Chronicle: ACA Exchange To Offer Fewer, And More Expensive, Plans Locally
Houstonians who purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's exchange will have dramatically fewer options in 2017, with half the number of carriers participating as last year. And premium prices will rise by more than $200 per month for some plans. With a week to go before the fourth enrollment season opens on Nov. 1, the healthcare.gov website on Monday publicly previewed a slimmer array of plans that will be available for next year. The plans are generally more expensive, too. The national average increase of 25 percent in benchmark silver-plan premiums. (Deam and Najarro, 10/24)