What’s New in Health Care Reform: Feb. 22

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.

Price Could Try to Stabilize Market for Law He Derailed

Tom Price spent much of his six terms in Congress fighting against the Affordable Care Act, but as the newly-minted secretary of Health and Human Services, his first acts may focus on shoring up the very same law he railed against. Stabilizing the individual insurance market created under the ACA is a crucial step to ensure insurers stay in the market next year and consumers get a smooth transition to whatever plan Republicans agree on. The HHS secretary, who has broad authority over the nation’s health care, may prove a crucial part of that effort, lawmakers and outside experts say. Via Morning Consult.

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Not Invited to Administration Obamacare Meeting: Treasury

Members of the Trump administration got together to talk about President Trump's plan to repeal and replace Obamacare—but a photo tweeted by White House chief of staff Reince Priebus doesn't show any Treasury Department officials at the table, despite the likelihood that the plan will involve big tax changes. At the table were many members of the president's health care and policy teams, including Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, yet-to-be confirmed Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services head Seema Verma, and White House aide Stephen Miller. But no one from the Treasury Department was there, and a source who heard about the snub from a White House economic adviser said the department feels shut out of the process. Via Axios.

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Obamacare Launched a New Wave of Start-Ups. Now They’re Bracing for What’s Next

Steadily and without fanfare, the Affordable Care Act has created a boom in Silicon Valley. Since the law passed nearly seven years ago, billions of investor dollars have flowed into digital health start-ups such as Stride Health that were spurred by the legislation’s overhaul of the health-care system and the market forces it unleashed. The law’s reach also extends to a generation of “gig economy” companies—including Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, and Instacart—that are dependent on the labor of flexible workers, who are among the biggest ACA consumers. Tech entrepreneurs have also relied on the law, saying it has made it easier for them to found start-ups. Via Washington Post.

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Trump: Obamacare Replacement Coming in "A Couple of Weeks"

As a presidential candidate, Trump campaigned on the promise of dismantling and replacing former President Barack Obama's signature health care law, vowing to do so swiftly after taking office. But some congressional Republicans have voiced concerns over repealing the law too hastily, saying that doing so could effectively take health insurance away from the roughly 20 million people insured under the law. Via The Hill.

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McConnell: Health Care Overhaul Will Be Done without Democratic Support

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn’t expect any Democratic cooperation in replacing the Affordable Care Act. It’s a notable admission from the Kentucky Republican, who told reporters last month that he expected “close to no Democratic cooperation” in the effort, and acknowledged that Republicans are likely tied to replacing the law through the reconciliation process. Via Morning Consult.

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Republican Health Care Proposal Would Cover Fewer Low-Income Families

House Republicans are debating a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act that would give consumers tax credits to buy insurance, cut back on Medicaid, and allow people to save their own money to pay for health care costs. The outline plan is likely to take away some of the financial help low-income families get through Obamacare subsidies, and also result in fewer people being covered under the Medicaid health care program for the poor. Via NPR.

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Medicaid Exposes Rifts within the GOP over the Program’s Future after the ACA

As congressional Republicans move from talking points to details of how to abolish the Affordable Care Act, behind-the-scenes jockeying over the future of Medicaid demonstrates the delicate trade-offs the GOP faces in trying to steer health policy in a more conservative direction. For years, many Republicans have railed against the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, which has extended coverage to about 11 million people. But now that they have the political power to reverse those gains, internal disagreements have emerged. Via Washington Post.

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Trump Administration Proposes Rule to Stabilize Obamacare Markets

The Trump administration introduced a rule that’s intended to quell health insurers’ concerns about the stability of the Affordable Care Act’s individual and small group marketplaces in 2018. The rule, proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, tightens the length of the 2018 open enrollment period, encouraging healthier individuals to enroll for full-year coverage. Under the rule, the enrollment period would still open on Nov. 1, but would close on Dec. 15 instead of Jan. 31. Via Morning Consult.

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Shorter Enrollment Period for Obamacare Proposed by Administration

President Trump has promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act without taking insurance away from the millions of people who gained coverage under the law. His Department of Health and Human Services made its first substantive proposals to change the marketplaces for individual coverage, commonly known as Obamacare. The proposed rules aim to keep insurers in the market during a transition to a new system. One way is to tighten up when people can sign up for coverage. Via NPR.

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CMS Projects Slower Health Spending Growth over Next Decade under ACA

Actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services project the average rate of national health spending will grow 5.6 percent between 2016 and 2025, down slightly from their projections last year. Economic growth, medical prices and an aging population are all factors driving up spending, according to data published in the journal Health Affairs. Via Morning Consult.

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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.