What’s New in Health Care Reform: Feb. 3

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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.


Obama Seeks More Than $1 Billion to Fight Opioid Abuse

The Obama administration said that it would ask Congress to spend an additional $1.1 billion next year to combat a growing epidemic of prescription painkiller and heroin abuse. Via NY Times.

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Buying Supplemental Insurance Can be Hard for Younger Medicare Beneficiaries

Almost one in four Medicare beneficiaries has such a policy, known as Medigap, which is sold by private insurance companies. It can help pay for costs Medicare doesn’t cover, including the 20 percent coinsurance required for medical expenses, including certain drugs, plus deductibles and co-payments. Those expenses have no out-of-pocket limit for beneficiaries. Via Kaiser Health News. 

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Here’s How the White House Plans to Spend $1 Billion in Cancer Moonshot Money

The biggest beneficiary of the spending will be the National Institutes of Health, which will get $195 million this year and the vast majority of the $755 million that the White House plans to spend in 2017. The Food and Drug Administration, the Pentagon, and the Department of Veterans Affairs will receive smaller amounts of money focused on data research and broader cancer studies. Via Washington Post.

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More Providers Than Previously Thought Accept Medicaid Patients

In 2013, the last time Health Affairs published a physician survey on the question, the researchers found nearly 1 out of 3 doctors refused to see new Medicaid patients. That was compared to just 17% of physicians who refused to see new Medicare patients; and those were the ones who admitted it. But a new analysis by the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) could be turning that belief on its head. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Medicare's Big-Data Experiment Depends on Data Use Agreements to Protect Privacy

The Obama administration is working to balance patient privacy with the promise of tapping into market forces to boost its 4-year-old initiative to allow outside organizations to mine federal claims data for health care quality improvement and cost containment. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Affordable Care Act’s Third Enrollment Season Draws to a Quiet Close

The third open-enrollment season for health plans under the Affordable Care Act moved into its final hours with little fanfare from Obama administration officials who had been urging consumers to buy insurance. It was unclear whether the close of the three-month enrollment window drew any stampede of last-minute shoppers on HealthCare.gov, as was the case during the first two sign-up years. In each of those, federal health officials trumpeted a late surge of people choosing health plans as evidence of Americans' eagerness for coverage. Via Washington Post.

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The Health Insurance Industry’s Identity Crisis

As lawmakers and policy groups debated the mechanics of what would become the Affordable Care Act, health insurers saw the writing on the wall. The public viewed as intolerable insurance strategies that denied coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charged higher premiums to sick members. More people needed access to care, and that meant the system had to expand coverage and rewrite the rules. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Obama Outlines Cancer Moonshot Task Force

President Obama officially launched the White House Cancer Moonshot Task, issuing a three-page memorandum detailing the initiative.  “The Task Force shall work with a wide array of executive departments and agencies that have responsibility for key issues related to basic translational, and clinical research, therapy development, regulation of medical products, and medical care related to cancer,” Obama wrote. “Consistent with applicable law, the Task Force will also consult with external experts from relevant scientific sectors, including the Presidentially appointed National Cancer Advisory Board.” Via Morning Consult.


How Many Workers Will the Cadillac Tax Hit?

The term “Cadillac tax” is evocative: It suggests that the health-insurance plans it would tax—through a provision in the Affordable Care Act—are to regular health insurance as a Cadillac is to a Kia. President Obama once described the levy as targeting “really fancy [health insurance] plans that end up driving up costs.” But what many Americans may not realize is that “Cadillac tax” is in part a misnomer. While some plans that qualify for the tax may be high-end with extra benefits, or “really fancy,” not all of them are. Nor is every employee with an expensive plan a corporate executive. Via The Atlantic.

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Telemedicine Advances Faster Than States Can Keep Up

The explosion of online health-care apps and providers has forced states to face tough questions -- many of which they have yet to find an answer to. Via Governing.

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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.