What’s New in Health Care Reform: Feb. 10


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.

ObamaCare Gets Extra Sign-Up Period to Clear Tax Issues

The Obama administration is setting up a new ObamaCare sign-up period for people who failed to file 2014 tax returns. Jan. 31 was the deadline for most people to sign up, but this new period will provide another chance until March 31, for certain people who might have missed out on coverage because of confusion about new ObamaCare requirements regarding taxes and health insurance. Via The Hill.

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Obama Budget Books Medical Research, Tackles Drug Prices

For the second year in a row, Obama wants a significant increase for the National Institutes of Health. He wants to boost the agency’s budget to $33.1 billion, an increase of $825 million — enough to pay for 10,000 new medical research grants, according to the White House. Via Stat News. 

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Senate Panel Wants to Create NIH Fund for Cures

Senate Republicans will likely propose a one-time “innovation fund” for the National Institutes of Health as part of the piecemeal approach the Senate has taken to developing medical legislation. The overarching goal of the committee’s effort is to get new medical cures to patients faster. The House passed a wide-ranging bill last year that follows the same idea. Via Morning Consult.

Gov’t Report: Drop in Uninsured in 8 States

Eight states saw a significant drop last year in the number of residents going without health insurance, according to a government report out that has implications for the presidential campaign. All but Florida had accepted a Medicaid expansion that is one of two major pathways to coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law. The law's other coverage route is subsidized private insurance, available in all 50 states. Via AP.

BCBS Report Shows Insurers Care About Drug Costs and Provider Payments

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association released its 2015 annual report on state health care and insurance issues. It says that states’ responses to King v. Burwell, Medicaid expansion, and responses to pharmaceutical and provider costs are top issues. Via Morning Consult.

Uninsured Present Tough Test for ObamaCare

ObamaCare faces a tougher path ahead in enrolling the roughly 30 million people who remain uninsured, despite the record gains already made. The administration signed up 12.7 million people for coverage in 2016, a significant number, but only a small bump from the 11.7 million enrolled last year. Officials warned from the start that this year would be the hardest yet, because the people most eager to sign up already had. Via The Hill.

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HHS Head: Immigration Reform Would Help Reach Universal Health Coverage

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell says immigration reform would help achieve universal health coverage. Asked about the further steps needed to achieve universal coverage, with roughly 30 million people remaining uninsured, Burwell told a roundtable of reporters that immigration reform is one step, along with continued growth in ObamaCare’s marketplaces and Medicaid expansion. Via The Hill.

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The Big Problem With High Health Care Deductibles

Deductibles and other forms of cost-sharing have been creeping up in the United States since the late 1990s. A typical employer health plan now asks an individual to pay more than $1,000 out of pocket before coverage kicks in for most services. The most popular plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges require customers to pay several times as much. Even Medicare charges deductibles. Via NY Times.

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Large Companies Form Alliance to Tackle Health Care Costs

Twenty major U.S. corporations announced that they would share data and expertise in an effort to curb health care costs. The group of companies, which includes Nashville-based hospital operator HCA, say they want to “break with existing marketplace practices that are costly, wasteful, and efficient.” Members of the group, known as the Health Transformation Alliance, represent some of America's largest employers. They collectively spend more than $14 billion a year on health care benefits for 4 million people. Via Modern Healthcare.

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HHS budget Would Rise to $1.1 Trillion and Encourage States to Expand Medicaid 

Spending for the Department of Health and Human Services would increase to $1.1 trillion under a proposal that would add large mandatory expenditures for cancer research and fighting drug addictions while slightly decreasing the department’s discretionary programs. The budget would modify the controversial “Cadillac tax” on expensive private health plans, so that it wouldn’t apply to some employers in states with especially high insurance prices. Via Washington Post.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. He leads strategies for corporate communications, public relations, and new media innovations. Andy has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2003. Outside of work, Andy can be found running, hiking, snapping photos, and most importantly, spending time with his family.