Senate HELP Committee proposal coming this week
This week, the Senate HELP Committee is expected to release its proposal
to stabilize the marketplace. The proposal is said to include a commitment to fund the law’s cost-sharing subsidies; changes to the way states can obtain 1332 “innovation waivers” and potentially broader access to cheaper, less comprehensive insurance plans. HELP Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is working hard with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to maintain a narrow proposal, with fixes that would not create any new costs
and bring stability to the markets.
CBO to analyze Cassidy-Graham bill
Senate Republicans have asked the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to speed up its ongoing score of the Cassidy-Graham bill. The CBO is currently analyzing the cost and coverage impact of the plan, which would convert funding for ACA programs to block grants that allow states to set up their own health care systems. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) claims to have the support of the Trump Administration and believes he has nearly enough votes to pass the bill. The Senate has until September 30 to pass a bill with a simple majority; however, Graham says he will continue to push the bill even if the Senate does not meet the deadline. Skeptics of the bill argue the redistribution of federal funding would hurt some states and help others.
Anthem decides to remain in ACA exchange in Virginia
Anthem has reversed its previous decision to pull out of the ACA exchange in Virginia. The insurer reconsidered the decision to exit the market after no other insurers stepped up to cover the majority of Virginia counties left bare. Anthem will continue to sell plans in 68 cities and counties in Virginia, 63 of which had appeared at risk of completely lacking a marketplace insurer.
CMS grants Hurricane Irma Medicare exceptions
CMS will grant exceptions in the second and third quarters of the 2017 calendar year to certain hospitals and other healthcare facilities affected by Hurricane Irma for Medicare quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs, waiving the extraordinary circumstances request that is usually required. These exceptions are being granted so that providers can direct their resources towards caring for the victims of Hurricane Irma and repairing structural damages to facilities. All 67 counties in Florida are considered a major disaster county by FEMA and will benefit from these exceptions.
Stakeholders weigh in on need for updated telehealth policies
Health IT Now (HITN), a coalition of providers, patient groups and insurers, is calling on CMS to revamp some of its telehealth rules. The coalition supports proposed additions to cover telehealth services and wants CMS to offer Medicare reimbursement for more types of treatment, including physical therapy and occupational and speech-language therapy. The group also advocates for adding diabetes educators to the list of providers eligible to bill for telehealth services. In the letter, HITN argues providers are not granted enough flexibility to use the benefits of telehealth in a way that best suits their needs and the needs of their patients.