ACHP Media Monitoring Report – July 25, 2017

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Member News: As open enrollment approaches, insurers are seeking stability in the market. Dr. Michael W. Cropp, president and CEO of Independent Health, said it’s difficult to figure out a path and understand revenue in the current environment.

Senate to vote on procedure to begin ACA repeal
Today, the Senate will hold a procedural vote that could open debate on health care reform. It’s unclear what legislation will be considered or if GOP leaders have enough votes to proceed; Republicans need 50 votes to open debate, and many Senators have been noncommittal. The GOP’s chances of opening debate improved with the return of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to the Senate floor, a week after undergoing treatment for a recently announced brain tumor. While McCain has sent strong signals he would vote in favor of opening debate, it’s not clear he would support any bill that might emerge. President Trump is strongly urging Senate Republicans to pass legislation repealing the ACA, and has hinted there may be political repercussions for GOP lawmakers who oppose repeal efforts.

HHS messaging attacking ACA draws legal questions
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is under fire from Democratic lawmakers and legal experts for using department resources to criticize the ACA. The department has released materials and sent communications that assert the ACA is failing and that call for the health law’s repeal. Critics allege the move violates anti-lobbying laws that prevent federal resources from being used to support pending legislation. HHS claims they are merely keeping the public informed on challenges with the law.

Molina Healthcare cuts jobs
Molina Healthcare, which specializes in Medicaid and ACA health coverage, is expected to cut about 1,400 jobs, according to a company memo. The company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $91 million, and staffing cuts aim to contribute to savings.

Hospitals run by staffing company see more surprise ER bills
One of the largest physician-staffing companies for emergency rooms, EmCare, has been linked with surprise medical bills. Researchers at Yale found the rate of out-of-network doctor’s bills and use of the highest billing code rose when EmCare was running a hospital. EmCare is not the only company that sends out-of-network bills and attributes higher billing to treating sicker patients.

Doctors create new way to provide dentures to low-income patients

A group of doctors has pioneered a new way to mold dentures, increasing efficiencies and allowing them to serve nearly 10 times as many people. The doctors provide care at a yearly free medical clinic in Virginia, which serves people in Appalachia who don’t have other options for care. The clinic has a waiting list for dentures of about 800 needy people. Instead of the typical, multistep process for fitting dentures, the doctors use a type of acrylic that holds its shape when heated and can be molded in a little over a day.

Over-the-counter devices comparable to hearing aids
According to a recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins and Towson University, over-the-counter sound-amplification products are almost as effective as hearing aids, which can cost more than $2,000. The devices tested in the study can be found at retail pharmacies and usually cost about $300 and $350 each. Legislation is pending in Congress that would make over-the-counter devices safer and more accessible.