ACHP Media Monitoring Report – July 11, 2017

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ACHP in the News: Sen. Ted Cruz’s health care plan would allow insurers to sell cheaper plans with less coverage if they offer at least one ACA-compliant plan. Policy experts say healthy individuals would choose the cheaper option, while sicker people would opt for expensive, more robust plans. ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly said that separating the sick and the healthy will drive up costs.

Revised GOP bill could come later this week
Senate Republicans are aiming to have a revised version of their health care bill late this week. However, the changes are unlikely to garner enough Republican support to pass the bill. One sticking point is Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) amendment to allow health insurers to sell plans that do not comply with ACA mandates, as long as they offer one option that does.

Democrats have found new allies in opposing the health care proposal: Republican governors. Sen. Carper (D-DE) is leading the bipartisan charge, calling senators and governors from both parties over recess. The National Governors Association summer meeting happening later this week could give governors the chance to weigh in.

Medicaid cuts could harm children, rural residents
The GOP’s health care proposal could leave many people who depend on Medicaid without health coverage. Several million children who rely on Medicaid to treat complex medical issues may not qualify under the Republican bill, as it limits the definition of who is covered. The medical costs for children with disabilities would be shifted to states under the GOP plan. Medicaid cuts could also take a toll on those living in rural areas. Advocates predict reduced funding could lead to more rural hospitals shutting down.

Drop in 2018 insurer applications
CMS announced 141 insurers submitted initial applications to provide coverage in the exchanges for at least one county for 2018, a 38 percent decline from 227 insurers last year. CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the numbers signal that “the status quo is not working.” The number of insurers will continue to fluctuate until final contracts are signed at the end of September.

ACA insurers earn profits
Insurers selling plans on the ACA exchanges had their most profitable first quarter, earning about $300 per member. The amount is more than double what they earned the previous three years during a similar timeframe. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the earnings position insurers to make a profit in the marketplaces.

HHS seeks comments on making healthcare system patient-centric
HHS is seeking comments on how to improve the individual and small-group insurance markets, asking which policies are hindering states’ regulation of their insurance markets and seeking recommendations on actions to help consumers pick the right plans. The comment period closes tomorrow.

CMS pushes back rule to improve home health agency care
CMS delayed implementation of a rule to improve home care from July 13, 2017 to January 13, 2018. Industry stakeholders asked CMS for more time to comply with requirements for additional training for home health administrators, who are now required to be a licensed physician or a registered nurse with one year of relevant experience. The rule also mandates a licensed clinician coordinate referrals and home health agencies must facilitate communication with patients’ physicians.