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Bipartisan health bill faces tight window
When lawmakers return September 5, they face a challenging timeline of 12 days to pass a bipartisan bill to shore up ACA markets before insurers must commit to the exchanges for 2018. from Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) would likely include the preservation of CSRs. Meanwhile, state insurance regulators will be watching Washington closely because the fate of CSRs will determine whether states will have to raise their rates. An opposing plan from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) that would dismantle much of the ACA is reportedly gaining support among some lawmakers.
New York approves rate hike for health plans
New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) approved a rate hike of just under 15 percent based on the potential loss of CSRs. Insurers in the state were seeking a more than 17 percent increase. drug prices were the greatest driver of price increases as well as the Administration’s lack of commitment to fund CSRs long-term, according to DFS.
Iowa and Oklahoma seek to reform the ACA through waivers
Iowa and Oklahoma are attempting to establish alternatives to the ACA’s insurance exchanges. Both states are holding discussions with CMS about their draft plans and argue their initiatives are needed to make premiums more affordable, attract more carriers into the individual insurance market, and persuade more healthy consumers to buy coverage.
CHIP funding hangs in the balance in some states
Congress has until the end of September to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). While many states are not expected to exhaust CHIP funds until the end of next year, Minnesota, Arizona, Washington, DC and North Carolina are projected to run out this . States must undergo a lot of preparations to shut down their programs if it seems unlikely Congress will pass the reauthorization.
Senator Sanders to introduce “Medicare for all”
Senator Bernie Sanders plans to introduce his “Medicare for all” bill next month. The first draft of the legislation would propose lowering the Medicare eligibility age over time and create a government-led public option for those that do not qualify. Medicare is currently geared toward older adults, and Sanders’ bill will likely base benefits on the ACA’s essential health benefits to make the program work for all age groups. There are no details yet on financing.
Many consumers don’t shop around for health services
Most consumers don’t compare the prices of health services or ask how much they would owe in co-payments, according to a new study from Harvard Medical School. Roughly half of respondents were aware of costs in advance, and only 13 percent tried to predict their out-of-pocket expenses. It wasn’t that all respondents were unaware, more than 90 percent said they believed that prices vary greatly among providers, and 71 percent said that the amount they spent out-of-pocket was important when choosing a doctor. Yet most said they didn’t comparison shop or even ask how much they would owe before they turned up for an appointment.