ACHP Media Monitoring Report: May 9, 2017

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GOP health bill debate in the Senate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has created a 13-man working group on health care, made up of conservatives, ACA critics and no women. Republicans can only afford to lose two votes, and moderate Republicans in the Senate could be more difficult to convince than those in the House. The reversal of Medicaid expansion and the cost of premiums in rural areas may be more prominent issues in the Senate debate, as lawmakers representing less populated states hold immense power. Axios put together an interactive tracker to stay on top of ever-changing elements of the GOP health care bill.

ACA uncertainty affects insurers, CHIP
Insurers are abandoning the marketplace or charging steeper rates for 2018 to cope with the instability in the market. Several health insurers have said that Administration actions are the cause of premium hikes in 2018, and others have left the marketplace, leaving some states at risk of having no plans selling coverage.

Funding will end for the Children’s Health Insurance Program unless Congress reauthorizes it by September 30. Democrats postponed a CHIP reauthorization hearing so that the GOP health care bill would not overshadow it. Advocates worry Republicans will also request delays to use the program as leverage to support their health care reform bill. Medicaid cuts in the GOP health care bill could impact CHIP, as Medicaid and CHIP are intertwined.

Senate to resume Gottlieb vote
On Monday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on Scott Gottlieb’s nomination to be FDA commissioner and will resume reviewing the nomination today. Gottlieb is expected to be confirmed.

Monthly payments affect Medicaid coverage in Indiana
An evaluation of HIP, Indiana’s version of Medicaid, shows more than half of beneficiaries have skipped monthly payments required for enrollment in the top benefits package. Few beneficiaries lost coverage, but most were shifted to a plan with fewer benefits that doesn’t require payments. Critics assert the program is too complicated and monthly payments are a barrier to coverage. The program was rolled out by current CMS Administrator Seema Verma, and other states are considering applying for waivers to adopt similar models.

Life expectancy gaps among US counties
Researchers from the University of Washington have released an analysis demonstrating wide variations in life expectancies based on geography. The longitudinal study compared life expectancies for every county from 1980 to 2014. The study found a gap of 20 years between the county with the highest life expectancy and the lowest life expectancy. Researchers hope the data can help officials determine where and how to spend public health resources.