ACHP Media Monitoring Report – July 5, 2017

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ACHP in the News: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is proposing changes to the Republican health care bill that could consolidate support. The proposal requires insurers to offer one ACA compliant plan but also allows insurers to offer less expensive plans that do not meet all ACA requirements. “We admire the Senator’s efforts to think creatively and would be very happy to discuss the idea in greater detail, as many unanswered questions remain,” ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly told Modern Healthcare in response to the plan.

Congress looks to prevent enforcement of individual mandate
Congress is continuing efforts to prevent the I.R.S. from enforcing the individual mandate. The effort is separate from the bill to repeal the ACA and would be included as part of the annual spending bill for the Treasury and the I.R.S. The bill would prevent funds from being used to enforce the tax penalty on those who forgo insurance coverage, reinforcing an executive order issued by President Trump earlier this year.

Senate bill’s Medicaid cuts could curb use of telemedicine
Under the Senate health care plan, Medicaid funding would be cut, putting popular telemedicine programs at risk. Medicaid has increasingly invested in the tool over the past few years. Despite the tool’s popularity, Medicaid cuts would result in fewer telemedicine programs as states tighten budgets.

MA dataset will not be released due to worries about accuracy
CMS has announced it will not release Medicare Advantage (MA) data on patients’ diagnoses and treatments. Researchers had been anticipating the dataset, as it would provide the first opportunity to assess the effectiveness of MA plans. CMS had intended to release the data at a health conference in June, but made a last-minute decision not to due to accuracy concerns. CMS plans to examine data from 2015 and hopes it will be accurate and comprehensive enough to support research.

CMS report shows ACA insurer risk programs are working
A report by CMS portrays the ACA’s reinsurance and risk adjustment programs are working decently. It said the programs “functioned smoothly” last year and predictability of risk scores “was noticeably improved.” Experts say the report is the first from CMS that hasn’t emphasized the law’s problems, but it still does not negate real problems in the market.

Compromise on Horizon reserves reached
A dispute that shut down the government of New Jersey over whether the government could force the state’s largest insurer to use reserve funds for opioid treatment has been resolved. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) had asked the nonprofit insurer Horizon to provide $300 million to battle the epidemic. Horizon refused, arguing the move would put its fiscal obligation to policyholders at risk. As a compromise, Horizon agreed to annual audits on its reserves and to add two members to its board, with the state Senate and Assembly appointing one each.

Indiana health commissioner nominated for U.S. surgeon general
The Trump administration nominated Dr. Jerome Adams to serve as U.S. surgeon general. As health commissioner of Indiana since 2014, he curbed an HIV outbreak in a rural Indiana community by implementing a needle exchange program. He has also spoken out against opioid abuse and use of prescription painkillers.