ACHP Media Monitoring Report: February 2, 2017

Note to readers: ACHP will be changing the delivery system it uses for the Media Monitoring report starting Monday, February 6. If you do not receive the Media Monitoring Report by end of day Monday, please reach out to achpcommunications@achp.org.

ACHP Member News: Kaiser Permanente has completed its acquisition of Group Health Cooperative. Kaiser Permanente now serves more than 11.3 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Read more here.

GOP weighing temporary funding for ACA provisions
Republicans may approve temporary funding to support the individual marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) until a replacement plan is passed. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) worries removing cost sharing and reinsurance payments may lead many insurers to withdraw from the individual marketplace, which could imperil coverage for millions of Americans, reports Jessie Hellmann of The Hill.

Alexander’s remarks followed testimony by industry experts before the HELP Committee calling on Congress to provide clarity on the future of the market. Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post reports Marilyn Tavenner, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, warned uncertainty could drive up prices by as much as 20 percent as insurers leave the individual market.

Lawmakers move from replace to repair
Republicans are changing their rhetoric regarding changes to the ACA. Several lawmakers are shifting their aim from repeal and replace to repairing the ACA. The new language comes in response to the challenges with repeal and replace of the health law, as many of the existing provisions are popular. Peter Sullivan of The Hill has the story.

Medicare Advantage payment rates will rise in 2018
CMS is proposing a small increase in payment rates for Medicare Advantage plans in 2018. The agency projects an average revenue increase of .25 percent from proposals in its “Advance Notice and Call Letter” and a 2.5 percent average increase accounting for coding changes. The move was not unexpected, and Anna Wilde Matthews of The Wall Street Journal notes experts anticipate health investors will have a neutral reaction to the news. Nonetheless, the decision may provide some reassurance to insurers, who have expressed concern about potential reforms to Medicare and who are worried about the stability of the health insurance industry.

Indiana requests waiver to continue Medicaid expansion
The state of Indiana is asking the Trump administration to extend a regulatory waiver and continue funding the state’s experimental version of Medicaid, which blends penalties and incentives. Low-income Hoosiers who qualify for the program are required to pay premiums, receive health savings accounts and can have coverage revoked if they miss payments, explains Phil Galewitz of NPR. Donald Trump’s nominee for CMS Administrator, Seema Verma, designed the program, which was implemented while Vice President Mike Pence was Governor of Indiana.

Studies of Note

In this feature, the Media Monitoring Report shares a selection of notable research studies within the health care industry.

 Medicaid Block Grants

5 Key Questions: Medicaid Block Grants & Per Capita Caps
Kaiser Family Foundation
January 31, 2017
The Kaiser Family Foundation has released an issue brief detailing Medicaid block grants and per capita caps. These changes to Medicaid financing could set a precedent for differences and redistribution of funds across states.

Mental Health and Cancer

Depression and Anxiety Tied to Cancer Deaths
The New York Times
January 27, 2017
University College Reader in Epidemiology G David Batty and colleagues find depression and anxiety may lead to an increased risk of dying from cancer. Researchers used mental health questionnaires to interview more than 160,000 adults and compared scores for depression and anxiety with cancer deaths.

Purchasing Health Coverage

How the Affordable Care Act Has Improved Americans’ Ability to Buy Health Insurance on Their Own
The Commonwealth Fund
February 1, 2017
The Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey explores trends in consumer experience with health care. The survey finds the Affordable Care Act has contributed to the improvement of individuals’ ability to purchase health insurance on their own.

Medicare Reform

What Medicare Advantage’s Success in Delivering Post-Acute Care Means for Medicare Reform
Brookings
January 30, 2017
University of Southern California Professor of Public Policy and Director of Research Neeraj Sood and colleagues find different costs and outcomes for patients enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans versus Medicare Fee-For-Service coverage. The Medicare Advantage patients had lower care use, leading to cost savings. The study was published in Health Affairs.