ACHP Media Monitoring Report: October 31, 2016

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Fewer options for health care consumers
Americans will have fewer choices when purchasing health insurance on the exchange than at any time since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law. About one-third of counties will have only one insurer participating in the marketplace next year, according to an analysis by Avalere Health and the Associated Press. For ACA advocates, a lack of choice could become a greater issue than high premiums shares the Associated Press.

 Groups call for drug prices in Cures bill
The 21st Century Cures bill, designed to boost investments in research and accelerate Food and Drug Administration approval of treatments, may not pass the House this year. A coalition of 13 liberal groups submitted a letter asking Congress to delay moving forward with the legislation until it includes regulation on high drug prices. Peter Sullivan at The Hill has the story.

Insurers aim for restrictions on premium supplements
Insurance companies are lobbying for stricter regulations on premium assistance programs designed to help low-income individuals purchase health care on the exchange. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) asserts the supplements are raising the cost of health care by expanding the risk pool for insurers, writes Phil Galewitz of Kaiser Health News. AHIP explains many recipients qualify for Medicare or Medicaid and would not normally purchase exchange plans without the supplements.

Economists question downplaying of premium increases
When confronted with rising premium costs, administration officials argue the effects of price increases on consumers are overstated, as federal subsidies cover much of the cost. Economists believe the administration is understating the effects premium increases will have on the economy, reports Robert Pear of The New York Times. Experts cite indirect effects, including increased taxes, instability caused by high prices and the costs for Americans who do not qualify for the tax credit.

Children face insufficient mental health care
All 50 states lack a sufficient number of child psychiatrists. There is only one psychiatrist for roughly every 1,800 children who need mental health services. Sarah Vander Schaaff of The Washington Post explains limited access leaves children without treatment, which can lead to difficulties throughout adolescence into adulthood.

Blog Review

Our weekly Blog Review features insightful posts from around the web and keeps an eye on medical industry and health news via the Trend Watch. This week we review posts discussing ways to lower drug costs for consumers and employers. This week’s Trend Watch compiles posts about the Affordable Care Act.

Drug Costs

Ways to More Affordable Medicines: Cutting Out-of-Pocket Costs
According to Eli Lilly and Company Chair, President and CEO John Lechleiter reducing out-of-pocket costs for consumers and accounting for value when pricing drugs will result in more affordable medications. Lechleiter suggests ways for employers to keep costs down, including offering health-savings accounts and health-reimbursement accounts, creating equal co-insurance percentages for medicine and other care and investing in employee wellness.

For Medical Miracles, Empower Drug Companies — Don’t Vilify Them
The Hill
Manhattan Institute Director Paul Howard, PhD, and former Senator Tom Coburn want the conversation around drugs to shift from price to access. The authors advocate for the streamlining of regulatory processes to help lower drug costs and accelerate approval of new treatments.

Trend Watch

Affordable Care Act

Higher Health-Insurance Premiums Don’t Mean the Affordable Care Act is a Disaster
Washington Post
Attacks on the Affordable Care Act focusing on premium price increases are misguided, according to two former White House health care advisors. University of Pennsylvania Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy Chair Ezekiel Emanuel and venture capital firm Venrock Partner Bob Kocher helped draft the ACA. They point out health care costs were rising at a much higher rate before the legislation passed and assert expenses would be higher without the law.

The Best Way to Save Obamacare
The New York Times
Political Science Professor and Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies Director Jacob Hacker believes the federal government needs to offer a public option to keep the health care exchange viable. Hacker contends a public option would spur competition by creating a benchmark for pricing and providing a back-up should private plans fail.