ACHP Media Monitoring Report: April 11, 2017

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ACHP in the News: In a discussion with The Washington Post, ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly explains ACHP members will be forced to either raise premiums or withdraw from exchanges altogether if the government ends cost-sharing subsidies. Many low-income Americans rely on the subsidies to purchase health coverage, and ending the payments could prevent them from purchasing insurance. Experts say premiums would jump by almost 20 percent if the administration refuses to pay out cost-sharing subsidies. The same story notes that two-thirds of Geisinger Health Plan members benefit from the payments. Geisinger CFO Kurt Wrobel says members will take a significant financial hit if payments are discontinued.

Trump administration open to paying subsidies
The Trump administration says it is willing to continue paying subsidies to health insurance companies under the ACA despite the pending litigation over their legality. The move sends a small but potentially significant signal to insurers, encouraging them to stay in the market. Insurers have to decide on their participation in the individual marketplace by June, and many health plans are still on the fence. It’s also unclear if Congress would approve funding for the subsidies if the administration decided to back away from supporting the payments.

Funding cuts could undermine health advocates’ focus on housing
Some advocates worry Trump administration proposals for cuts to housing programs and changes to tax code could thwart efforts to bring housing to patients. Health care providers are adding housing as part of treatment plans for patients who lack stable homes. Federal housing and tax programs as well as buildings hospitals rent to patients are improving health outcomes and reducing costs for hospitals.

Unraveling the ACA without Congress
Republican lawmakers have tabled efforts to repeal and replace the ACA for now, but the Trump administration can still undo much of the law on its own. The administration can allow states to set more stringent Medicaid requirements and can minimize advertising and promotion of enrollment periods. The continued the health care debate can also inject uncertainty into the marketplace, which may cause insurers to withdraw.

Legislation could help bring doctors to rural areas
A bipartisan group of Senators have introduced a bill to extend a program that allows doctors from other nations to stay in the country if they agree to serve rural, underserved regions for three years. Sponsored by Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), the bill expands the Conrad 30 program to allow more than 30 doctors per state to remain in the country—the current cap—as well as provides worker protections. Rural areas tend to experience a lack of providers, and the program could help secure medical care in underserved communities.