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Despite critique of process and internal rifts, GOP Senators prepare for health care vote
The Senate plans to vote on a health care bill before the July 4th recess. Senate aides report the bill will likely be released this week and the CBO score early next week. It’s unclear if Republicans have enough votes; as there is still disagreement on some provisions, especially Medicaid. Reports indicate the Senate plan includes steeper Medicaid cuts than the House bill, but implements them over the next three years. GOP leaders have faced criticism for allowing only a few Senators to draft the bill behind closed doors. Democrats plan to stall any Senate business, in an attempt to delay the bill and to protest the secretive process.
Lack of clarity on ACA, CSRs adds to premium hikes
In 2018, more than 40 percent of counties could be left with only one insurer on the exchange, and some counties may have no options at all. An Avalere analysis also finds that silver exchange plans, the most popular type, will cost on average 18 percent more in 2018 than last year. Uncertainty around the ACA and cost-sharing subsidies as well as lower enrollment in the exchanges are contributing to the premium increases.
Medica recently announced it would sell plans on the exchange, making it the only insurer participating in some Iowa counties. However, Medica has proposed an average rate increase of 43.5 percent.
Indiana bypasses comment period and opens legal challenges on work requirements waiver
Legal experts believe Indiana’s waiver request to implement work requirements for Medicaid may be open to legal challenges because the state skipped a 30-day comment period required under the ACA. CMS has approved the waiver, despite Indiana’s failure to follow the rule. Experts say CMS is violating its own rules, and, if filed, a legal challenge could delay—although not halt—approval of the waiver.
Flat fee clinics face financial challenges
Clinics that offer unlimited care for a flat, monthly fee have been a small but growing trend in health care. While health experts acknowledge the model benefits chronic care patients, many experts worry it encourages healthy patients to seek unneeded treatment. Additionally, these clinics have had difficulty staying afloat financially: Qliance, a flat fee pioneer, closed five clinics this week due to financial strains, and other clinics experimenting with this model have closed over the past few years as well.
Healthy roommates boost recovery
A healthier roommate in the hospital could lead to a speedier recovery. A recent study found that hospital patients with healthier roommates needed less care and had shorter stays, and female patients with healthy roommates had a smaller risk of re-hospitalization. According to the study’s author, capitalizing on the findings could lead to reduced inpatient days and significant savings for hospitals.
Obesity rates rise
A study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that obesity prevalence is rising around the world, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Rates of obesity have steadily climbed since the 1980s and more than 10 percent of the world’s population is now obese. Vox calculated that obesity now kills more people than car accidents, terror attacks and Alzheimer’s Disease combined.