ACHP Media Monitoring Report – July 24, 2017

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ACHP in the News: Uncertainty around enforcement of the individual mandate and cost-sharing subsidies is creating concern for insurers. ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly said insurers will have to proceed conservatively when it comes to pricing.

Administration actions could weaken ACA
The Administration could take several steps to weaken the ACA. The White House could end cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, which help offset the cost of health coverage for consumers. It could also stop enforcing the individual mandate, which helps ensure enough healthy people purchase insurance. Additionally, HHS does not seem to be reaching out to insurers or consumers to encourage participation in the exchanges.

Senate pushes ahead with health care vote despite uncertainties
The Senate will hold a vote opening debate on health care reform this week, but it’s unclear what legislation lawmakers will be debating. It appears Republican leaders plan to bring the House bill to the floor and allow Senators to offer amendments, but the GOP may not have enough votes for such a strategy. Further complicating matters is a ruling by the Parliamentarian last Friday that key provisions designed to secure support from wavering lawmakers violate Senate rules for what can pass with only 50 votes; the GOP only has 52 votes in the Senate, and would not be able to meet the 60 vote threshold for those provisions. Yet, without those provisions in place, GOP leaders will have a harder time reaching 50 votes. Senate GOP Conference Chair John Thune acknowledged the Senate may not pass a bill this week, but promised Senate Republicans would continue efforts to repeal the ACA.

CMS plans to request increased authority to inspect MA networks
CMS is seeking greater authority from the White House to review Medicare Advantage plans after it found almost half of provider directories reviewed in January had errors. The agency is proposing MA plans upload their networks to a central database if they have not been reviewed in the last three years so they can be vetted. Under current rules, the agency can only evaluate plans’ compliance once a trigger event occurs, such as when a plan starts operating under MA or it expands coverage to new areas. CMS is collecting comments on the proposal through Aug. 18 before submitting its request to OMB.

Americans pay more for health care
The U.S. is one of the most expensive countries to purchase health care, and Americans often spend more on health costs despite seeing a doctor less frequently than individuals in other nations. Vox compiled a series of interactive charts that compare the costs of different treatments and tests in America and other countries.

Tattoo-like sensor measures vitals
Researchers developed a new tattoo-like sensor to monitor muscle activity and body temperature. The ultrathin, water-soluble sensor is constructed from nanoscale mesh, which is an entanglement of fibers 1,000 times thinner than human hair. Researchers hope to measure patients’ vital signs without discomfort and athletes’ physiological signs without impeding performance.