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Senate bill collapses, future of health care reform uncertain
Senate efforts to repeal and replace the ACA have failed, as GOP leaders have been unable to secure 50 votes. Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) joined Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in opposition to the bill. The GOP is split over how to proceed at this time. Some are calling for a bipartisan bill, but President Trump and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are pushing for a clean repeal implemented after a two-year transition period. Many who supported the Senate bill have criticized a “repeal and delay” strategy, and it is unclear if the GOP could gather enough votes to pass such legislation. At least one defector—Sen. Lee—has announced he would support a “repeal and delay” bill.
Senate Republicans faced many hurdles that made garnering support for the bill difficult. Increased pressure to oppose the repeal effort, changes to Medicaid that would hurt state budgets and leave millions uninsured and infighting within the Republican party all contributed to the bill’s demise. The ACA is also playing a bigger role in communities, increasing the popularity of the law. Nearly 20 million Americans gained health coverage under the ACA, and Medicaid funding has helped combat the opioid crisis and cover hospital costs for low-income residents.
HHS unsure how much money was wrongly paid in premium tax credits
The GAO was asked to examine improper payments related to premium tax credits, and the report finds HHS won’t know how much of the $24 billion given to people to buy health insurance was improperly paid until 2022. A lack of comprehensive national databases makes it easy for applicants to lie about residency or claim they cannot afford employer-based coverage. The GAO recommends HHS expedite reports of improper payments and the IRS improve its verification processes.
Immigrants skip appointments in fear of deportation
The crackdown on illegal immigration has discouraged immigrants from visiting hospitals and clinics. Providers report a noticeable uptick in no-shows at clinics serving these communities. Arrests of undocumented immigrants were 38 percent higher in the Trump Administration’s first 100 days compared to the same period under the Obama Administration.
Virtual reality to help seniors with dementia
An assisted-living facility in Florida is testing whether virtual reality can help seniors with dementia. Sixteen residents are participating in a four-week trial where they will spend up to a half hour viewing three- to five-minute clips of a virtual world. The facility aims to determine if virtual reality can reduce agitation and depression with scenes that evoke nostalgia, including images of a 1950s jazz club and a sunset on a farm.
ACOs cover 10 percent of U.S. population
Accountable care organizations now cover 10 percent of the U.S. population. The number of ACOs has grown by 11 percent since the first quarter of 2016, bringing the total to 923. These groups are primary drivers in the industry’s move to value-based care.