What’s New in Health Care Reform: Sept. 23

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What's New in Health Care Reform provides an overview of the past week’s news, updates, and commentary in health care reform and utilization management.


Drug Reform Bill Would Allow Medicare to Negotiate Prices

The Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015 would enable Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices, as well as enable U.S. consumers to import lower-priced drugs from Canada and require transparency from drug companies on what they charge in other countries. Via Healthcare DIVE.

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There's More to Health Reform Than Expanding Coverage

The numbers are in: The health care act reduced the share of Americans without health insurance last year to 10.4 percent, down from 13.3 percent the year before. That represents 8.8 million fewer people who risked financial ruin if they needed significant medical care. Most of the improvement came from people getting coverage through Medicaid or the state insurance exchanges. The figures put to rest the notion that program would cause more people to lose coverage than gain it. But U.S. health care is by no means fixed. Via Chicago Tribune. 

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Number of Americans Lacking Health Insurance Dropped in 2014

The number and percentage of uninsured Americans plunged in 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau said in a report. Triggered by key provisions of the health care reform law that went into effect last year, 33 million people lacked coverage in 2014, down 8.8 million compared with the 41.8 million without coverage in 2013. Similarly, the percentage of the population who were uninsured dropped in 2014 to 10.4%, down from 13.3% in 2013. Via Business Insurance.

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How Health Care is Changing: Key Thoughts on Making it Positive for ASCs

Change has become the norm over the past five years, but now heading into the second half of the decade healthcare reform's foundation firmly in place. The Affordable Care Act promotes high quality care for the lowest cost possible, leaning on data collection, reporting and transparency to drive better value. ASCs typically have higher quality and patient satisfaction scores than hospitals with lower costs. Via Becker's ASC Review.

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Repealing Health Reform Law Individual Mandate Could Save Govt. Billions: CBO

Repealing a provision in the health care reform law that imposes financial penalties on individuals who don’t enroll in a health insurance plan would save the federal government tens of billions of dollars each year, according to a new congressional analysis. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the penalty for not opting for health plan coverage in 2015 is $325 or 2% of household income, whichever is greater. In 2016, the penalty will rise and be $695, or 2.5% of household income, whichever is higher. Via Business Insurance.

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Next Health Care Fight? Out-of-Pocket Costs

Until now, the fight over health care reform has mostly been a battle over two numbers: how many Americans have insurance, and how much they pay in premiums. It may be time to think more seriously about a third number: out-of-pocket costs. Via Bloomberg View.

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How Congress Quietly Killed Military Health Care Reform

After years of resistance, Congress has spoken on military compensation reform. But only about one aspect of the whole package: retirement. Left undone? Health care and education reform. The largest cost driver of all of these is military health care. Reform of this system, known as TriCare, in particular is about getting better outcomes at reduced cost, and, yes, saving money. Both are important goals because military health care has been the largest cost driver of personnel costs over the past decade. Via The Hill.

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Obamacare has Made Americans More Conservative About Health Care

Hillary Clinton issued her defense of the Affordable Care Act and proposals to change the landmark health law, signaling the next battle in a war with all the signs of a political stalemate. Americans are basically evenly split in their assessments of the law and sharply divided along partisan lines; Republican presidential candidates want to scrap the law, while Democrats support keeping it (Clinton) or expanding it (Bernie Sanders). None of this is new to anybody, nor expected to change anytime soon. Via Washington Post.

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Health Insurance Deductibles Outpacing Wage Increases, Study Finds

It may not seem like much — just an extra hundred dollars or so a year. But the steady upward creep in health insurance deductibles has easily outpaced the average increase in a worker’s wages over the last five years, according to a new analysis released by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser, a health policy research group that conducts a yearly survey of employer health benefits, calculates that deductibles have risen more than six times faster than workers’ earnings since 2010. Via NY Times.

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Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing: Will It Go Away?

The NIH defines direct-to-consumer genetic tests (DTCs) as those aimed at consumers via television, print advertisements, or the Internet. Also known as at-home genetic tests they provide access to a person’s genetic information without necessarily involving a doctor or insurance company in the process. Causing controversy among health care professionals and heavily marketed by the companies that provide them, the tests prompted concern among health care professionals, such as the American College of Medicine Genetics board of directors, which said in 2004 that due to complexities of genetic testing and counseling, the self-ordering of genetic tests by patients could potentially cause harm. Potential pitfalls, according to the organization, include inappropriate test utilization, misinterpretation of test results, lack of necessary follow-up, and other adverse consequences. Via Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.

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Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.