What’s New in Health Care Reform: Dec. 28

woman-caregiver-with-older-african-american-woman-diversity-alzheimersWhat'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.


New York City Mayor Aims to Insure Thousands More under Affordable Care Act

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to enroll 50,000 people in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act by the end of next year, a move officials said would save the city’s cash-strapped hospital system $40 million a year. President-elect Donald Trump and Republican leaders have vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Mr. de Blasio, a supporter of universal health care, said he believes growing enrollment will make that more difficult. “One of the best ways to fight back is to sign up the maximum number of people for health insurance,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. “The more people sign up, the harder it is to get away with repealing it.” Via Wall Street Journal.

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CBO Warns against Major Changes to Essential Health Benefits

The Congressional Budget Office said it would not count people with minimal insurance as being covered under an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, according to a blog post by the nonpartisan CBO. The CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation anticipate that under some ACA replacement proposals—which don’t clearly specify what type of coverage could be purchased with federal tax credits—insurers may start offering non-group plans that would not meet their expectations for adequate coverage, the CBO said in today’s post. Via Morning Consult.

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Obamacare Recipients Go to Court to Protect Funding

Donald Trump won't be sworn in as president for another month, but one of the first salvos in a forthcoming legal war against his administration was launched as people who get subsidies under Obamacare asked to intervene in a lawsuit that threatens to shut down funding key to the health insurance program. Two consumers asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to allow them to fight a district court judge's ruling in May that the Obama administration defied existing law by using billions of dollars in federal funds to reimburse insurers who offer subsidized insurance plans to Americans from low- to middle-income households. Via Politico.

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Study: Fewer People Skipping Doctor Visits under Obamacare

Fewer people skipped going to a doctor because they could not afford it in recent years under Obamacare, a new study finds. The study from the Commonwealth Fund released finds that nationwide, the percentage of adults who said they had skipped going to the doctor when needed because of cost fell from 16% in 2013 to 13% in 2015. Via The Hill.

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Researchers Race to Copy Obamacare Data for Fear It Will Vanish

The White House is encouraging researchers to copy government data on Obamacare out of concern that President-elect Donald Trump might hit the delete key when he takes office. Spooked by Trump's rhetoric and pledge to repeal Obamacare, several dozen independent researchers are racing to download key health care data and documents before Jan. 20. They say they began the effort on their own, and then got a boost from Jeanne Lambrew, the White House's top health reform official, who also sounded alarms the new administration might expunge reams of information from public websites and end access to data. Via Politico.

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HHS Reports Record ACA Sign-Ups as Republicans Plot Repeal

Sign-ups for Affordable Care Act insurance are up compared to the same time last year, putting the Obama administration on target to meet its goal of 13.8 million covered lives when the 2017 open enrollment period closes. About 6.4 million people have signed up for an Obamacare health plan during this enrollment period, which continues through the end of January. That figure includes more than 2 million new consumers and 4.3 million people who have renewed their plan since the open enrollment period began Nov. 1. Via Morning Consult.

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GOP Considers Holding Off on Repealing Obamacare Taxes

Congressional Republicans are considering holding off on repealing some of Obamacare's taxes, according to lobbyists familiar with the discussions. GOP lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee discussed the possibility of keeping some of the taxes in place during a retreat at the Library of Congress, the sources say. Via The Hill.

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Democratic Governors Warn Congress on Health Care Repeal

Democratic governors warned top Republicans in Congress that repealing the Obama health care law would stick states with billions of dollars in costs for providing medical care to residents made newly uninsured. The Democratic Governors Association to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In the letter, estimating that states could face nearly $69 billion in costs for uncompensated care over the next 10 years if the health law is repealed. States traditionally shouldered a hefty share of such costs. Republicans plan to repeal. Via AP.

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Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove Named as Contender for Trump's VA Pick

Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove was among prospective cabinet picks who met with President-elect Donald Trump. Cosgrove is reportedly a contender to lead the Veterans Affairs Department. Cosgrove and Luis Quinonez, the president of a company that provides health care services to the military, are the leading prospects for VA secretary, according to a Bloomberg report citing an anonymous source. Trump has said he intends to carry out a complete overhaul of the department and its health care system, which two years ago was engulfed in a scandal over excessive wait times for veterans seeking care. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Deep Divisions Threaten the Clout of the Nation’s Largest Doctors Group

Even before the recent election, physicians felt perched on a precipice. Changes sweeping health care have threatened their independence, income, and influence. An epidemic of burnout and depression shadows the profession. And the incoming Trump administration promises still more upheaval. Who represents doctors in this unsettling environment? Decades ago, the answer would have been clear: the American Medical Association, the nation’s oldest and largest medical organization. Via STAT.

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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.