ACHP Media Monitoring Report: January 23, 2017

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ACHP in the news: ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly discusses the challenges community based, nonprofit health plans face in an uncertain health care market with the Washington Post.

 In a discussion with Modern Healthcare, ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly explores the potential effects of Donald Trump’s executive order on health care market stability.

Court blocks Aetna-Humana merger
US District Judge John Bates has ruled against the merger between insurers Aetna and Humana on the grounds violates antitrust law. . Bates asserted the merger would hamper competition for sales of Medicare Advantage plans in more than 360 counties across the country, reports Shelby Livingston of Modern Healthcare.

Trump begins plans to alter the ACA
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order instructing federal agencies to begin rolling back aspects of the Affordable Care Act. The executive order does not specify what changes should be made but to minimize economic and regulatory burden and provide states with more flexibility and control, gives agencies broad leeway to alter or waive components of the law. Julie Hirschfield Davis and Robert Pear of The New York Times report the order also includes language to explore creating a system that would allow insurers to sell insurance across state lines as an alternative.

White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway indicated on Sunday President Trump may stop enforcing a tax penalty on individuals who are not enrolled in an insurance plan. Conway’s comments came in response to a question from This Week host George Stephanopoulos, who was seeking clarity on Trump’s executive order. Peter Sullivan of The Hill notes the executive branch is entitled to grant hardship exemptions, but a blanket lifting of the mandate may exceed presidential powers.

Trump aims to replace Medicaid funding with block grant system
Republicans plan to replace the current Medicaid system with a block grant design, according to White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway. The comments came in an interview with NBC News’s Sunday Today. Alison Kodjak of NPR explains Conway did not elaborate on how the block grant system would be structured.

GOP governors want immediate ACA replacement, Medicaid expansion
Republican governors are warning Congress against repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan. GOP governors are worried repealing the law without a replacement could adversely affect state budgets and cause a spike in uninsured visits to hospitals. The governors have also stressed no Americans should lose insurance as a result of repealing the ACA, write Zachary Tracer and Anna Edney of Bloomberg News.

Ten governors met with lawmakers in Washington asking for benefits for the poorest Americans to remain intact. Ohio Governor John Kasich suggested subsidies or tax credits as a way to cover those who received health care through Medicaid expansion. More than 30 states chose to expand Medicaid programs. Susan Cornwell of Reuters has the story.

AAA releases report on potential health care reforms
The American Academy of Actuaries (AAA) has released a document exploring the effects of different policy options in the individual health insurance market. The paper provides policy assessments on a variety of proposals, including strengthening incentives to purchased coverage, restructuring the premium subsidies and allowing insurers to sell across state lines.

NIH Director Collins retained
President Trump has asked the current National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, M.D., to remain in his position, at least for the time being. According to Dylan Scott of STATNews, the administration has not indicated if Collins will retain the position permanently.

Blog Review

Our weekly Blog Review features insightful posts from around the web and keeps an eye on medical industry and health news via the Trend Watch. This week we review posts discussing President Trump’s plans for the Affordable Care Act. This week’s Trend Watch compiles posts reviewing the viability of interstate insurance sales.

ACA Repeal

How Trump Can Use Obamacare to Kill Obamacare
Reporter Dan Diamond discusses President Trump’s executive order asking several agencies to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to Diamond, the order could be detrimental to the health law as executive authority was used to set up provisions.

What We Know and Don’t Know About Trump’s Healthcare Plans
The Hill
Staff writer Peter Sullivan outlines several aspects of a President Trump plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Sullivan notes universal coverage, Medicaid block grants and coverage for those with pre-existing conditions as possible elements of a health care bill.

Trend Watch

Interstate Insurance

Interstate Insurance Sales: Wishful Thinking, Or a Viable Policy Option?
Health Affairs
Darwin Health President John Marchica describes several challenges and advantages to selling insurance across state lines, including difficulties with regulation and a possible increase in competition. Marchica believes accountability and conciliating state regulators are keys to making interstate insurance sales a viable option.

Selling Health Insurance Across State Lines Not Likely to Reduce Premiums
Idaho Statesman
Editorial Editor Robert Ehlert expresses skepticism about interstate insurance sales. According to Ehlert, the health care system needs more competition to reduce prices, and selling insurance across state lines will not accomplish this goal.