ACHP Media Monitoring Report – August 31, 2017

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Trump Administration wants stabilized health insurance markets
On Wednesday, the Administration indicated that it wanted to stabilize health insurance markets, but declined to comment on whether or not the government would continue to promote ACA enrollment this fall. The official also declined to comment on whether or not the Administration would continue to fund CSRs.

Leaders of state-run insurance exchanges submit letter on preservation of subsidies
Senior leaders from state-run exchanges in Connecticut, Minnesota, Colorado, Nevada, California and Oregon sent a letter to the Senate HELP Committee throwing their support behind Congressional efforts to bolster the individual insurance markets while allowing states more flexibility in implementing the ACA. The states that sent the letter have seen many insurers raise premiums as well as insurers opt out of the exchanges for 2018 due to growing costs and the uncertain fate of the ACA in Congress.

HELP Committee to hear from Tennessee insurance commissioner at hearings
Chaired by Senator Alexander (R-TN), the Senate HELP Committee will hear from Tennessee insurance commissioner, Julie McPeak, at next week’s hearing on market stabilization. She’ll be discussing the need for greater flexibility in state insurance regulation and will likely call for funding of CSR payments and a reinsurance or high-risk pool program to aid insurers with the costs of treating the sickest patients. Though no counties in Tennessee are bare, only 17 of 95 Tennessee counties will have more than one insurer. According to a CMS map, there are 1,476 counties nationally that could have only one insurer next year. Those one-insurer counties comprise almost 3 million ACA marketplace customers.

Perception about rising premiums is off
Seventy-six percent of Americans believe reports about “soaring premiums” refer to their own payments, according to a poll this month. However, a significant majority of Americans do not participate in the individual insurance market and are therefore mostly unaffected. More than 150 million Americans are covered through the employer insurance market, where premiums only rose an average of three percent last year and are not expected to rise substantially in the future. The misconception that premiums are rising for everyone is partly due to punchy headlines about premium costs and pundits making a case for drastic health care reform.

Implementing technology to reduce delayed payments
South Dakota’s Sanford Health has begun using kiosks at some of its clinics to educate patients on costs before they receive treatment. The program, still in its pilot phase, displays estimated out-of-pocket costs, co-pays and other balances or collections similar to an airport check-in kiosk. The kiosks have increased Sanford’s up-front collections and helps their patients better understand overall health care costs. Close to three in five Americans put off paying their medical bills due in large part due to confusion surrounding their insurance coverage.