ACHP Media Monitoring Report: February 14, 2017

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Insurers urge Trump to keep enforcing mandates
The Trump administration plans to release regulations designed to stabilize the health care market as Congress works on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Experts anticipate the regulations will help tighten enrollment rules to help protect insurance providers. Insurers are also pushing for the Trump administration to take additional measures, writes Bob Herman of Axios including maintaining cost-sharing reduction subsidies until high-risk pools are established.

Aetna and Humana halt merger attempt
Insurers Aetna and Humana are no longer pursuing a merger. The deal previously had been blocked by a federal judge on the grounds it violated federal antitrust laws, notes Caroline Humer of Reuters. The move was expected following the ruling; Humana will receive a $1 billion breakup fee from Aetna because of the decision.

Moda wins $200 million in risk corridor case
A federal judge has ruled the government must pay Oregon insurer Moda Health Plan the $200 million promised to the insurer under the ACA risk-corridor provisions. The ruling could be a clue to future decisions on similar cases pending across country, explains Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal. Dozens of insurers are suing the government after Congress passed a 2014 spending bill requiring the risk-corridor program to be “budget-neutral.” The legislation ultimately resulted in the government not paying a number of insurers entitled to funds under the program (subscriber’s content).

Updated guidelines for back pain suggest alternative therapy
The American College of Physicians has released new guidelines for individuals experiencing lower back pain, changing its previous stance on the use of medication as first-line treatment. According to the new guidelines, alternative therapies—including acupuncture, exercise or yoga—should be the first options for treatment, and doctors should avoid prescribing opioids. As more states look to decrease reliance on painkillers, doctors are re-evaluating prescribing patterns. Gina Kolata at The New York Times has the story.

Marathon pauses sale of new drug over price concerns
After outcry over the $89,000 yearly price tag for a new muscular dystrophy drug, the manufacturer, Marathon Pharmaceuticals, is pausing the launch of the treatment. Sarah Jane Tribble and Sydney Lupkin at Kaiser Health News share the patient concerns that prompted the company to hold the release of the drug.

Freedom Caucus opposes more moderate ACA replacement plan
The House Freedom Caucus voted on Monday to not support an ACA repeal bill unless it is as far reaching as the 2015 measure, which proposed nixing the health law’s mandates, taxes and subsidies as well as Medicaid expansion. Peter Sullivan at The Hill shares other Republicans worry their constituents will lose health coverage if Medicaid expansion is repealed.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows spoke with Caitlin Owens at Axios and outlined what he would like to see in a strategy to replace the ACA, including a full repeal in the next 30 days and a vote on a replacement in the following month.