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

Diabetes-research-1What'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's Medicaid Expansion Increases Access to Care

A new study finds that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion led to gains in access to health care in two Southern states. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, finds that patients fared better in Kentucky and Arkansas—two states that accepted the expansion of Medicaid—compared to Texas, which has rejected it. Via The Hill.

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Obama's Health Secretary Wants to Make Patients Healthier by Transforming How Doctors and Hospitals Get Paid

As President Obama closes in on his final months in office, few parts of his legacy loom larger than the Affordable Care Act, the landmark health care overhaul he signed in 2010 that helped extend health coverage to more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans. But largely out of the spotlight, Obama administration officials have labored on an equally sweeping project to transform the way America’s doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers deliver care. Via LA Times. 

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Fixing the Insurance Exchanges

Like basketball players who are sick of losing a game, many health insurers who ventured into the new marketplaces are sending a clear message: We're taking our ball and going home. And if the government wants them to play again, they want more of the rules changed. Via Morning Consult.

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Obamacare’s Markets Will Be Less Competitive Next Year. Here’s Why.

Competition on the Obamacare marketplaces will decline next year. There will be significantly more places in the country where customers have no choice of health insurance because just one company signed up to sell coverage. This is the conclusion that health policy experts have increasingly gravitated toward in recent months and weeks, as major insurance companies have announced hundreds of millions of dollars in financial losses on the Obamacare marketplaces. Via VOX.

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The Race for a Zika Vaccine Is Intense. But It May Be Missing the Most Important Players

Some of the work has been astonishingly quick. Human trials for two experimental vaccines have already begun. But a vaccine is likely still several years off, and there are indications the wait could be lengthened by a complication that has little to do with the science of vaccine development: The world’s top-tier pharmaceutical companies are largely hanging back, reluctant to get into the race for a vaccine. Via STAT.

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What Will the Health Insurance Market in Minnesota Look Like in 2017?

When it comes to health insurance, this is a confusing time. Many Minnesotans were thrown into uncertainty when Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota announced it had decided to stop selling health plans to individuals and families starting next year. It's especially confusing if you're buying insurance on your own, outside of an employer. Via MPR.

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Beyond "Obamacare": State Initiatives Refocus Health Debate

Moving beyond "Obamacare," political activists are looking to state ballot questions to refocus the nation's long-running debate over government's role in health care. Via AP.

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Employers’ Health Benefit Increases Will Be Far Lower Than ACA Premiums

A majority of large employers expect the cost growth for their health care benefit to remain stable at 6 percent in 2017, but specialty drugs are the most-cited driver of cost increases, according to a survey report released by the National Business Group on Health. The report is an annual survey of the group’s members. It reflects plan design information of 133 large employers from a wide variety of industry sectors. Via Morning Consult.

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Burwell to GOP Lawmakers: Zika Funds Sorely Needed

Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell told Republican lawmakers that funding for the Zika virus is badly needed, urging Sen. John Cornyn to work toward a bipartisan funding bill. In a letter sent to Cornyn, in response to a letter to the administration from the Texas delegation, Burwell said the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will run out of funds for the virus by the end of the month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has spent $143 million of an allocated $222 million, which it is expected to spend by the end of the year, she said. Via Morning Consult.

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Big Driver of Medicare Spending: Doctors Doing More Tests in Their Offices

Testing for the condition rose nationwide in recent years after a device became available that allows doctors to perform tests in their offices—and to make more profit from Medicare for doing so. The federal program for seniors and disabled people paid out $16.7 million for the test in 2014, according to the latest data, a 10-fold increase from two years earlier. Via Wall Street Journal.

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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.