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Lawmakers seek bipartisan approach to health care
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will hold hearings on September 6 and 7 with state insurance commissioners and governors. The committee will hear suggestions from state leaders on how to develop a bipartisan plan to ensure that Americans have access to affordable insurance for 2018. Chairman of the committee, Alexander Lamar (R-TN) said any health care bill should include CSR funding.
Govs. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and John Kasich (R-OH) are developing a set of bipartisan proposals to address rising premiums and market instability. The proposals may recommend funding CSRs and raising the minimum number of employees that would trigger a requirement for companies to provide health insurance coverage. The Governors aim to release the plan before the Senate HELP Committee begins its hearings next month.
Rising costs, declining revenues for nonprofit plans in 2016
Annual expenses for not-for-profit plans grew by 7 percent in 2016, outpacing 6 percent revenue gains. The expenses were due to increased labor costs, rising pension contributions, investments in technology and growing pharmaceutical prices, according to Moody’s Investors Service, which analyzed hospitals and health systems. As it becomes more difficult to operate independently, more hospitals may join large health systems.
Trends in Medicare spending
Data show that since 2006 a greater share of Medicare spending is shifting away from physician practices and inpatient hospitals and moving toward private insurers, outpatient settings and Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug programs. Part of the shift is related to payment cuts to hospitals that were part of the ACA, but the trend can also be credited to more narrowly defined benefits and networks as well as patient avoidance of hospitalization.
Presence Health of Illinois to be acquired by Ascension
Due to financial challenges, Presence Health will be acquired by Ascension Health, forming a joint venture called Amita Health. The deal could close by the end of this year or early next year, pending approval. The Presence Health acquisition is part of a growing trend of consolidation across the country as hospitals aim to lower costs and improve the quality of care.
Increased use of telemedicine
Thirty-four states now have laws requiring insurance plans to cover telemedicine services. Most current legislation requires private insurers to offer reimbursement for physician services offered through telemedicine. However, legislation varies among states and Medicare and Medicaid have lagged behind insurers in coverage of telehealth.