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Public support for bipartisan fix to ACA
Americans want Congress to work together on a consensus approach to health care reform, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe Congress should pass a bipartisan heath plan aimed at fixing the ACA, and almost 80 percent believe President Trump should try to make the health law work. Only 1 in 5 Americans believe Republicans should continue their efforts to repeal and replace the ACA.
Key Congressmen working on stabilization package
Reps. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) are drafting legislation designed to stabilize the individual market. The bill would include funding authorization for CSR subsidies and expand how states can use 1332 waivers to modify their state marketplaces. MacArthur and Meadows helped secure the votes necessary to pass repeal and replace legislation in the House.
Groups oppose ACA tax on devices, insurance
The 2.3 percent excise taxes on medical devices and health insurance, which were included in the ACA to help cover the cost of expanded coverage, are on track to be reinstated. Congress placed a moratorium on the taxes in 2015, which expires at the end of this year. Some industry leaders worry should they go into effect, the taxes could stifle employment and innovation as well as lead to premium hikes. Conservative groups are calling on lawmakers to end the taxes, and spending legislation or the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program could be used as vehicles for repeal or delay the taxes.
Premium increases vary among cities
Health insurers selling plans on the exchanges have until Wednesday to finalize rates, and early filings are indicating how rates will change in 2018. According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, premium changes for 2018 varied greatly across 21 major U.S. cities, with silver plan premiums ranging from an increase of 49 percent to a decrease of 5 percent from 2017. Insurers that filed rates assuming CSRs would not be funded added as much as 23 percent to premiums.
High deductibles are not as unpopular as before
Employees are more satisfied with high-deductible plans than they were 10 years ago, though PPOs and HMOs remain popular. A study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found the gap between high-deductible plans and traditional plans is closing, but high-deductible plans are still below 50 percent satisfaction rates. Experts say surveys on employer-sponsored care fail to account for people forced to switch plans, which likely influences satisfaction ratings.
Hospices discharging patients before death profit most
Even though hospice is intended to help patients who are dying, nearly one in five hospice patients are discharged before death. The rate of living patients released from hospice has grown steadily since 2000, according to government reports, and a majority of those patients receive hospice through Medicare coverage. A study published in Health Affairs shows hospices that have the highest live discharge rates also post the largest profits, and federal regulators are questioning if the rates indicate some hospices are profiting by admitting patients who are not dying.