From Kaiser Health News

As States Strive to Stabilize Insurance Marketplaces, Insurers Return

August 14, 2019

Felicia Morrison is eager to find a health plan for next year that costs less than the one she has and covers more of the medical services she needs for her chronic autoimmune disease.

Morrison, a solo lawyer in Stockton, Calif., buys coverage for herself and her twin sons through Covered California, the state’s Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace. Morrison, 57, gets a federal subsidy to help pay for her coverage and she said that her monthly premium of $167 is manageable. But she spends thousands of dollars a year on deductibles, copayments and care not covered by her plan.

Felicia Morrison is eager to find a health plan for next year that costs less than the one she has and covers more of the medical services she needs for her chronic autoimmune disease.

Morrison, a solo lawyer in Stockton, Calif., buys coverage for herself and her twin sons through Covered California, the state’s Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace. Morrison, 57, gets a federal subsidy to help pay for her coverage and she said that her monthly premium of $167 is manageable. But she spends thousands of dollars a year on deductibles, copayments and care not covered by her plan.

“I would just like to have health insurance for a change that feels like it’s worth it and covers your costs,” she said….

Read the full Kaiser Health News article

Doctors Argue Plans to Remedy Surprise Medical Bills Will ‘Shred’ the Safety Net

August 7, 2019

“What Congress is considering would cut money that vulnerable patients rely on the most. That means seniors, children and Americans who rely on Medicaid would be hurt. … Tell Congress we can end surprise billing without shredding the safety net.”

— Physicians for Fair Coverage, in a national commercial which began airing in mid-July.

“What Congress is considering would cut money that vulnerable patients rely on the most. That means seniors, children and Americans who rely on Medicaid would be hurt. … Tell Congress we can end surprise billing without shredding the safety net.”

— Physicians for Fair Coverage, in a national commercial which began airing in mid-July.

Chances are, you or someone you know has gotten a surprise medical bill. One in six Americans have received these unexpected and often high charges after getting medical care from a doctor or hospital that isn’t in their insurance network.

It’s become a hot-button issue in Congress, and high-profile legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate to make the medical providers and insurers address the billing question and take the consumers out of the dispute. That means doctor specialty groups, hospitals and insurers are among the stakeholders that could be financially affected by the outcome….

Read the full Kaiser Health News article

Trump Administration ‘Open For Business’ On Drug Imports From Canada

July 31, 2019

A year after calling proposals allowing Americans to import cheaper drugs from Canada a “gimmick,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the federal government is “open for business” on such a strategy.

Azar announced a preliminary plan Wednesday to allow Americans to import certain lower-cost drugs from Canada. Insulin, biological drugs, controlled substances and intravenous drugs would not be included.

A year after calling proposals allowing Americans to import cheaper drugs from Canada a “gimmick,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the federal government is “open for business” on such a strategy.

Azar announced a preliminary plan Wednesday to allow Americans to import certain lower-cost drugs from Canada. Insulin, biological drugs, controlled substances and intravenous drugs would not be included.

The plan relies on states to come up with proposals for safe importation and submit them for federal approval….

Read the full Kaiser Health News article

‘Medicare For All’ Emerges as Early Divide in First Democratic Debate

June 27, 2019

During Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate — the first in a two-night event viewed as the de facto launch of the primary season — health policies, ranging from “Medicare for All” to efforts to curb skyrocketing drug prices, were among the key issues the 10 hopeful candidates onstage used to help differentiate themselves from the pack.

Health care dominated early, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) using questions about the economy to take aim at pharmaceutical and insurance companies. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) emphasized the difficulties many Americans face in paying premiums.

During Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate — the first in a two-night event viewed as the de facto launch of the primary season — health policies, ranging from “Medicare for All” to efforts to curb skyrocketing drug prices, were among the key issues the 10 hopeful candidates onstage used to help differentiate themselves from the pack.

Health care dominated early, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) using questions about the economy to take aim at pharmaceutical and insurance companies. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) emphasized the difficulties many Americans face in paying premiums.

But the candidates broke ranks on the details and not all of their claims stayed strictly within the lines.

Only two candidates — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Warren — raised their hands in favor of banishing private insurance to install a government-sponsored Medicare for All approach….

Read the full Kaiser Health News article

Study: Arkansas Medicaid Work Requirement Hits Those Already Employed

June 19, 2019

The Medicaid work requirement plan devised by Arkansas and approved by the Trump administration backfired because it caused thousands of poor adults to lose coverage without any evidence the target population gained jobs, a new study finds.

In fact, the requirement had only a limited chance for success as nearly 97% of Arkansas residents ages 30-49 who were eligible for Medicaid — those subject to the mandate — were already employed or should have been exempt from the new law, according to the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Medicaid work requirement plan devised by Arkansas and approved by the Trump administration backfired because it caused thousands of poor adults to lose coverage without any evidence the target population gained jobs, a new study finds.

In fact, the requirement had only a limited chance for success as nearly 97% of Arkansas residents ages 30-49 who were eligible for Medicaid — those subject to the mandate — were already employed or should have been exempt from the new law, according to the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Yet the state’s mandate — the first of its kind in the nation — resulted in 18,000 of the 100,000 targeted people falling off the Medicaid rolls. And despite administration officials’ statements that many of them may have found jobs, the study by researchers at Harvard found no evidence they secured either jobs or other insurance coverage. In fact, it noted a dip in the employment rate among those eligible for Medicaid….

Read the full Kaiser Health News article