ACHP Media Monitoring Report – August 22, 2017

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The bipartisan path forward for healthcare
When asked about the future of healthcare reform, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that lawmakers were going to observe negotiations between Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), the top two members of the Senate HELP Committee. Alexander and Murray plan to hold a series of bipartisan committee hearings this fall with the goal of passing an insurance stabilization bill that will provide funding for CSR payments.

Former officials call for market stability
Former U.S. health secretaries of both parties are advising the Administration and Congress that marketplace stability should be the immediate goal. Three former officials shared their views with the Associated Press, saying there needs to be clarity around the payment of CSRs and that states are likely to play a bigger role in shaping the future of the ACA. Open enrollment begins November 1, and ACA health plans currently serve about 10 million people.

Marketing efforts for open enrollment already underway
Marketing and recruitment for open enrollment has already begun. Efforts are starting much earlier this year in order to compensate for a shorter open enrollment period in most states, the termination of federal contracts with two companies that helped people sign up for coverage, and uncertainty about the Administration’s commitment to marketing for open enrollment. Many groups have started to advertise earlier and other local groups, called navigators, are helping to supplement enrollment efforts.

California is working to shore up its insurance exchange, Covered California. The program is spending millions on marketing and enrollment promotion as well as giving the federal government an extra month to commit to paying next year’s CSR payments. To prevent the departure of California plans from the exchanges, Covered California will also ensure plans that face unexpected losses due to federal policies are able to recoup those losses over the next three years.

Insurance markets proving more resilient than expected
Despite predictions that the ACA markets will soon collapse and the fact that over 80 counties have been at risk of becoming “Obamacare deserts” in 2018, it appears that all but one U.S. county in rural Ohio will have access to ACA plans next year. The resilience is credited to insurers finding opportunities to move into counties that have been abandoned by other companies. Despite these positive developments, the ACA markets are still at risk: Insurers have until late September to formally commit to markets, which could leave the door open for last minute changes.

Spike in serious allergy reactions
Insurance claims for allergic reactions to foods like peanuts, eggs and dairy have increased nearly five times over the past decade. The analysis conducted by FAIR Health studied private insurance claims with a diagnosis of an anaphylactic food reaction from 2007 to 2016. The increase in reactions is troubling medical professionals who struggle to advise parents on the condition because it does not have a permanent cure. The group will release a white paper in October that will look into geographical and gender variations as well as costs of services.