ACHP Media Monitoring Report – June 27, 2017

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ACHP in the News: A new draft of the Senate health care bill includes a six-month lockout period for patients who have discontinuity in coverage. ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly commented that improving the risk pool is beneficial to the market, but limiting patients to a lower level of coverage rather than a full lockout may be preferable in the absence of an individual mandate.

Senate scrambles for votes as CBO indicates Senate bill will cover 22 million fewer Americans
The nonpartisan CBO found that the Senate health care bill would cause 15 million Americans to lose coverage next year and 22 million Americans to lose coverage over the next 10 years. The bill cuts federal spending by roughly $321 billion over the next decade, mostly due to cuts to Medicaid and fewer tax credits for high-income earners. The CBO also estimates that nearly half of Americans will be affected by state waivers for essential health benefits, which could endanger coverage for maternity care, mental health and rehabilitation services.

Republican leaders are attempting to consolidate support for the Senate health care bill in the wake of the report. The CBO score projected greater deficit savings than GOP leaders expected and party leaders are considering using the additional funds for adjustments to secure support from key lawmakers. At the moment, GOP leaders do not have enough votes to bring to the bill to the floor for debate, let alone for passage. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Dean Heller (R-NV) have all indicated they would vote no on a motion to proceed.

How Medicaid affects Americans
Health care legislation under consideration by the House and Senate would fundamentally change the Medicaid program. NPR outlines key facts about the government program, including that it makes up about 10 percent of the Federal budget, pays for most people in nursing homes, has given individuals addicted to opioids a path to treatment and covers half of all births in the country.

Senate bill attempt to close coverage gap provides little relief
When the ACA was passed, Congress provided subsidies to Americans earning between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line, with the assumption Medicaid would cover anyone under the poverty line. However, when states rejected the Medicaid expansion, more than 2.5 million Americans beneath the poverty line found themselves ineligible for Medicaid or ACA subsidies. The Senate bill attempts to close that gap by shifting eligibility to all Americans making less than 350 percent of the poverty line, lowering the cap for eligibility but enabling Americans under the poverty line to receive tax credits. However, experts are skeptical the credits, which are tied to age and geographic location, will make much of a difference to those previously caught in the coverage gap, as they only support bronze plans, which have high out-of-pocket costs that most low-income Americans cannot afford.

Draft executive order allows coverage for chronic conditions
The Trump Administration has drafted an executive order that would allow patients enrolled in high-deductible health plans to access care for chronic conditions before they meet their deductible. Patients enrolled in high-deductible plans linked to tax-exempt health savings accounts must spend hundreds or often thousands of dollars to meet a deductible before benefits kick in. Federal rules bar health plans from covering clinically recommended services for people already diagnosed with a chronic illness until the deductible is met. This executive order would allow patients to avoid high out-of-pocket costs and could potentially boost enrollment in high-deductible plans.

Bill could cap malpractice awards
A group of reforms to supplement the American Health Care Act includes a measure that would cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice awards. This compensation often includes suffering, loss of companionship or loss of future wages, which are hard to assign a dollar amount. According to advocates, the measure would be unfair to patients who sustain serious injuries due to medical negligence.

Undocumented immigrants fear deportation orders, avoid medical care
Clinics serving immigrant populations report a downturn in appointments since the Administration’s crackdown. Providers have seen an increase in physical signs of depression and anxiety among patients who fear deportation. At a community health clinic North Carolina, doctors say some insulin-dependent patients have skipped appointments and refuse to exercise outside