November 16, 2017
A closer look at health care enrollment numbers
About 1.5 million people signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov in the first 11 days of open enrollment. This number seems strong compared to the same timeframe in 2016, where just over 1 million Americans signed up during the first 12 days. With the enrollment period shortened from 12 weeks to six, the period is already a third of the way over. A third of the way through last year’s enrollment season, more than 2.1 million people had enrolled in coverage. Some experts believe by this measure enrollment is actually down 25 percent. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, about 12 million individuals enrolled in an exchange plan last year; to match that number, more than 10 million would need to enroll over the next 4 weeks.
Tax reform could impact Alexander-Murray bill
Some lawmakers will be less likely to support the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill to extend CSR payments for two years if the ACA individual mandate is repealed as a part of tax reform. Tax reform can pass along partisan lines, but Democratic votes will be needed to reach the 60 Senate votes needed to pass the Alexander-Murray bill. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on the tax plan this week, setting up a vote on the Senate floor once lawmakers return after Thanksgiving.
IRS enforces the ACA employer mandate
The IRS is starting to enforce the employer mandate and thousands of businesses will soon be notified that they owe penalties for failing to offer employees qualifying health insurance. The Treasury Department has a legal obligation to enforce the ACA’s employer mandate while the health law remains intact. To prove compliance, businesses are required to send the IRS a report on their employee headcount and the health care coverage offered. The IRS is also planning to tighten enforcement of the individual mandate.
AMA hopes to tackle issues facing expectant mothers
The American Medical Association is calling for routine depression and anxiety screenings in new and expectant mothers. The policy also calls for new training materials to help physicians recognize signs of depression in this population. Some experts suggest health care providers aren’t doing enough to address the issue of maternal mental health. More women die from childbirth in the US than in any other wealthy nation, and more than one-third of mothers caring for toddlers have experienced symptoms of depression or anxiety during pregnancy or in the child’s first year.
DoD and VA align EHR rollouts
The Department of Defense (DoD) and Veteran Affairs (VA) are looking to create a single common electronic health record system (EHR). Sharing an EHR system will eliminate manual data entry between the DoD and VA and create a common workflow. The VA requested $782 million from the House Appropriations Committee to kickstart the shared rollout.
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