November 2, 2017
First day of ACA open enrollment
Yesterday marked the first day of ACA open enrollment and by most accounts the opening day went smoothly. Healthcare.gov remained up and running and navigators reported a steady flow of crowds at in-person enrollment events. But expectations for this sign-up period still remain low, mostly due to significant cuts to marketing and outreach, a shortened enrollment period and general confusion about where the law stands. Health analysts from S&P Global Ratings predict that enrollment could drop to under 11 million, which would be a 13 percent decline from last year and the lowest point since the ACA’s inaugural sign-up period in 2013.
Trump backs repealing ACA insurance mandate in tax bill
On Wednesday, President Trump suggested using the current tax bill to repeal the ACA’s individual mandate. The mandate requires people, with some exceptions, to pay a fine to the IRS if they do not have health insurance. Experts have said that repealing the individual mandate would result in massive premium spikes and a major increase in the number of uninsured. The tax bill, which was released this morning, does not include a provision impacting the mandate, but one could still be added at a later time. Republicans are also weighing the option of including the individual mandate in a sweeping year-end legislative package, which is increasingly likely to contain a long list of unrelated items on Congress’ to-do list.
MedPAC will look to shake up physician payments
Physician payments will be under a microscope today as the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) meets in DC. MedPAC does not have the power to mandate policies or regulate, but recommendations from the group holds a great deal of weight with Congress. MedPAC analysts have recently suggested doing away with Medicare’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) because, “It’s extremely complex and imposes a significant burden.” Much of the focus of today’s sessions will be to mull over alternative payment systems to MIPS. Because Medicare’s current payment system heavily favors surgeons and other specialists that do a lot of procedures, the MedPAC commissioners are interested in creating more incentives for primary care.
Sick seniors face serious health challenges
A new report conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that many seniors with serious illnesses are struggling with their overall health and wellness. The poll found that a large proportion of seniors feel lonely (48 percent) or feel as if they are a burden on their caretakers and families (51 percent), and nearly half said they have had problems understanding their medication instructions or explanations of medical care in the past year. This is the first poll in a series of surveys that will measure how attitudes towards growing old with illness change over time.
New York Times provides consumer advice for open enrollment
The New York Times has released an open enrollment guide with recommendations for consumers on which insurance plan they should purchase based on income and subsidies. The guide explains how income, geography, discounts and subsidies can affect the price of a plan, and provides recommendations for purchasing bronze, silver, gold and non-exchange coverage.
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