ACHP Media Monitoring Report – August 30, 2017

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Advisory Board sells health care business
Advisory Board Co, which provides research and software tools as well as consulting services to healthcare and education firms, is selling its health care business to UnitedHealth Group Inc’s Optum unit and education business to private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, for a total deal value of $2.58 billion. Advisory Board will merge its healthcare unit with Optum after the education business sale closes, which is expected at the end of the year or early 2018. Optum CEO Larry Renfro said the deal will allow both groups to provide greater value to clients.

No more bare counties
Every county in the nation will have an ACA exchange health plan in 2018, despite earlier predictions that as many as 49 counties might not have an insurer. While every county has an ACA plan, many are limited to only one insurer, raising concerns about high costs due to lack of competition. These concerns are exacerbated by existing by a shortened open enrollment period and uncertainty about the future of CSR subsidies and the individual mandate.

Threading the needle on a “simple” ACA stabilization bill
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray are leading the charge for ACA stabilization legislation, but face significant hurdles in passing the bill by September 30. The Senators only have a month to draft a bill that addresses underlying issues with the ACA and has the blessing of both parties. That could be an issue, as the two parties disagree on many areas, including the amount and duration for CSR subsidies and how much flexibility to provide to states.

Thinking outside the box for fixing the individual insurance market
Market stabilization is a top priority for Congress, but lawmakers do not yet have a consensus plan. Five proposals that are creating a buzz include: lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 55, allowing people to “buy into” Medicaid, getting young adults off their parents’ plans and back into the market, requiring insurers who participate in other government programs to offer marketplace coverage in those counties, and letting people use Health Savings Accounts to pay health insurance premiums.

State-run exchanges provide ideas on stabilization
Eleven states and the District of Columbia, all of which run their own ACA exchanges, have written a joint letter to leaders of the Senate HELP Committee on stabilization policy. The letter urges the Committee to support funding for CSR subsidies, to provide funding to establish a permanent reinsurance program, and to maintain flexibilities for state exchanges via 1332 waivers.

State officials worry as funding for CHIP is set to expire
Reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) usually has bipartisan support, but state officials fear that both parties in Congress may use the bill as platform for continued health care reform debate. Both parties have considered adding language that would address stabilization efforts, and state officials worry that could escalate into a broader debate over other issues like Medicaid funding. CHIP is authorized through 2019, but federal money for the state portion of the program is not; funding for that program ends September 30.

Physicians & hospitals unprepared for MACRA’s reimbursement changes
Many physicians and hospitals across the country say they are not prepared for continued rollout of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). According to a recent American Medical Association study, fewer than 1 in 4 physicians said they were ready to meet statutory requirements this year, which means that many could face a financial penalty in 2019.