ACHP Media Monitoring Report: May 1, 2017

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Republicans continue to adjust health care bill
On Sunday, President Trump reasserted his pledge that consumers with pre-existing conditions would retain protections under a GOP health care bill. The promise contradicts reports that the latest draft of the bill undermines those protections. President Trump did not provide details on how he would ensure coverage for those consumers, prompting speculation that the administration will rely on high-risk pools as a solution. There are still hurdles to gaining enough support in Congress to pass a bill. Significant policy differences exist among House Republicans, and some are worried amendments to the bill could lead to higher coverage costs. House leaders are making additional changes in an attempt to garner support from moderates, but are vague about what modifications will be included.

Advocates worry GOP bill will harm those with pre-existing conditions
Patient groups and doctors are worried that the Republican health care bill cover abandon those with pre-existing conditions. Statements from the American Medical Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network say the bill as written could create a system that puts a financial burden on people with life-threatening diseases.

Congress reaches budget deal, increases NIH funding
In a budget deal reached yesterday, Congress has increased NIH funding $2 billion, which includes $650 million for fighting the opioid crisis and $400 million for Alzheimer’s research. Congress allocated the additional spending despite proposals from the White House to cut the NIH budget by $1.2 billion; which would largely come from research grant funding. The budget compromise did not include funding for cost sharing subsidies.

California insurers file two sets of rates
In an effort to help insurers deal with uncertainty in the market, California insurers will be allowed to file two sets of rates for 2018, one lower set of rates based on enforcement of the ACA and the other to reflect the loss of cost-sharing subsidies.

Government funds low-income pool in Florida
The federal government has agreed to fund Florida’s low-income pool, which helps hospitals provide care for the uninsured. The decision to fund the pool is a reversal from the Obama Administration, which did not supply the money in an effort to encourage states to expand Medicaid to reduce the number of uninsured. The funding agreement is temporary, and Gov. Rick Scott said the agreement is an example of increased flexibility for states.

Appeals court maintains ruling on Anthem-Cigna deal
A federal appeals court upheld the decision to block Anthem’s bid to buy Cigna. The initial ruling in February blocked the merger on grounds that it would reduce competition and not be better for consumers. The appeals court ruling has likely doomed the bid, which has lasted about two years.