September 27, 2017
Deadline for ACA exchange participation is here
By today, insurers must inform the federal government if they will participate in the ACA’s individual and small-group marketplaces for 2018. Plans most likely to stay in the exchange include regional safety net health plans, plans that are part of hospital and doctor systems, and community-based plans. Major plans sitting out of ACA exchanges next year include Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group. Insurers to watch include Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, Centene and Molina Healthcare.
Senate Republicans officially pull Graham-Cassidy repeal bill
On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Republican leaders cancelled
this week’s vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal and replace the ACA. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said
that while the vote was cancelled, his party will continue to develop repeal plans. Some Republicans are pursuing an ACA repeal and replace package concurrently with tax reform. However, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) has already said that he will not support
a bundled tax and ACA repeal bill.Other lawmakers have moved forward on market stabilization efforts, with Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), calling for a revival of their bipartisan market stabilization efforts
from earlier this month. Alexander said he would work to find consensus on a limited bipartisan plan to help lower premiums and make insurance available in the individual market for 2018 and 2019.
As a result of the repeal and replace debate, for the first time this year health care has become the most important issue to voters – according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll.
CHIP deadline looms
Federal funding for CHIP is set to expire this weekend if Congress doesn’t reauthorize its funds by September 30. Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) reached a deal earlier this month to extend the program for five years, but there has been no additional action by Congress. While some states have sufficient funds to continue coverage past the September 30th deadline, others will begin to run out of money within weeks, forcing them to drop some of the 9 million children covered under the plan.
Congress may turn its back on community health centers
The nation’s 1,400 community health centers are carefully watching their expenses in case Congress does not reauthorize their federal funding. With four days left in the government’s fiscal year, Congress has yet to vote on reauthorizing billions of dollars that support community health centers and other health programs. Community health centers operate in more than 9,500 locations, serving 27 million people. They are the main source of health care for many low-income Americans — and the only source of primary care in many underserved areas. In 2015, nearly 1 in 6 Medicaid beneficiaries received health center services, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported this year.
HHS uses telehealth to promote nutrition and healthy diets
HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration is challenging software engineers, public health experts and community leaders to support development of low-cost, technology-based innovations to promote healthy weight for low-income children and families. Secretary Price identified reducing childhood obesity as a priority for HHS, acknowledging this is a growing epidemic in the U.S. HHS seeks to promote access to healthy, affordable food; support community-owned solutions that increase families’ knowledge and skills related to healthy eating and nutrition; find innovative ways that increase physical activity; and empower families to achieve healthy eating practices, healthy lifestyles, and sustainable changes.
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