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Insurers prepare to file rates while uncertainty reigns
The future of health care reform remains uncertain, even as health plans prepare to file rates with regulators for 2018 coverage. The Administration has taken steps to help stabilize the market, but Trump has also threatened to end cost-sharing reduction subsidies in his political showdown with Democrats. Insurers warn this uncertainty and lack of commitment to the CSR subsidies will force them to behave more cautiously, potentially causing larger rate increases and coverage withdrawals from some areas. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds premiums could rise 19 percent if CSRs go unfunded. Industry representatives — including company executives and insurance lobby CEO Marilyn Tavenner — are scheduled to meet today with Seema Verma, the head of CMS.
Reinsurance key component of GOP health care plan
Republican lawmakers are including funding for a $100 billion reinsurance program that states could use to support insurers or subsidize coverage for the chronically ill in legislation designed to repeal and replace the ACA. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the fund would help stabilize the market, lower premiums and decrease the number of individuals who would lose coverage under the GOP plan. Conservative and moderate Republicans are still negotiating other aspects of the bill, meaning a vote on health care reform is unlikely to occur anytime soon.
Ryan blamed for health bill failure
According to a Pew Research survey, House Speaker Paul Ryan has a lower approval rating than President Trump. The low rating, just 29 percent approval of job performance, signals that Ryan took the blame for the failed health care bill.
California improves treatment for vulnerable patients
California is making an effort to protect its most vulnerable residents. Los Angeles County is strengthening the safety net with a budget plan that includes significant funds for social services and health care. The money will help reduce homelessness, treat the sickest patients and divert those with mental illness from jail. The funding will also support Whole Person Care, an initiative to provide services to the sickest Medi-Cal patients.
Insurers have a role to play in access to addiction treatment
Despite the nationwide crisis, patients are facing high deductibles and copayments for opioid addiction treatment, and inpatient facilities are sometimes deemed medically unnecessary, leaving patients to pay out-of-pocket. Prior authorization rules also delay medication-assisted treatment. But some insurers are taking steps to improve access and coverage for addiction treatment in the face of the nation’s opioid crisis. That’s come in response to pressure from the public, policymakers and law enforcement officials, as well as the soaring cost of opioid prescriptions.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie is taking on the biggest health insurer in the state, demanding Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to fund efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. According to Politico, the insurer fight could also bolster Christie’s standing with the Administration. Last month, Trump named Christie to head a commission that will look for ways to combat drug abuse in America.