The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.
CBO: Pulling Obamacare Subsidies Would Drive up Premiums, Increase Deficit
Scrapping Obamacare’s cost-sharing subsidies would increase premiums on the most popular plans by 20% next year and swell the deficit by $194 billion over a decade, according to an analysis by the CBO. President Donald Trump has threatened to eliminate the subsidies, estimated to be $7 billion this year, before the next payments are due next week. Insurers rely on the subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-income Obamacare customers. Via Politico.
Doctor Shortage under Obamacare? It Didn’t Happen.
When you have a health problem, your first stop is probably to your primary care doctor. If you’ve found it harder to see your doctor in recent years, you could be tempted to blame the Affordable Care Act. As the health law sought to solve one problem, access to affordable health insurance, it risked creating another: too few primary care doctors to meet the surge in appointment requests from the newly insured. Studies published just before the 2014 coverage expansion predicted a demand for millions more annual primary care appointments, requiring thousands of new primary care providers just to keep up. But a more recent study suggests primary care appointment availability may not have suffered as much as expected. Via NY Times.
States Answer HHS’ Call for Waiver Proposals Aimed at Shoring up Insurance Marketplaces
While several states have answered the Trump administration’s call to apply for waivers to remake their Medicaid programs, others are seeking them for a different purpose: stabilizing their individual marketplaces. Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter to state leaders that encouraged them to use state innovation waivers—also known as Section 1332 waivers—to design systems like state-operated reinsurance programs or high-risk pools. Via FierceHealthcare.
Trump Signs Order Rolling Back Environmental Rules on Infrastructure
Rolling back the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, established by President Obama in an executive order in 2015, is the latest effort by the Trump administration to unravel the former president’s climate change agenda. Building trade groups and Republican lawmakers had criticized the rule as costly and overly burdensome. But environmental activists, flood plain managers, and some conservatives had urged the Trump administration to preserve it, arguing that it protected critical infrastructure and taxpayer dollars. Via NY Times.
White House: Health-Insurer Payments Will Be Made in August
The Trump administration said the federal government would make a set of payments to insurers for August, despite threats from the president that the funding would be halted following the failure of Senate Republicans to repeal most of the Affordable Care Act. Governors and Democratic lawmakers have been urging President Donald Trump to continue the payments, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, because insurers have said they may pull out of the ACA’s insurance markets or raise premiums in 2018 without the funding. Via Modern Healthcare.
Speedy Drug Approvals Lacking in Follow-Up
Makers of drugs that were quickly approved by the Food and Drug Administration took longer to conduct follow-up studies to confirm that the drugs were safe and effective than pharmaceuticals approved through the normal process, according to a new study. The study looked at mandated trials of drugs after they were cleared through accelerated approval from 2009 to 2013. The FDA gave accelerated approval to 22 drugs for 24 sicknesses—19 of which were for cancer—according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Via Washington Examiner.
Often Missing in the Health Care Debate: Women’s Voices
Many of the programs women depend on are still targets, most especially Medicaid, which pays for about half of U.S. births. Some programs are already shrinking under the Republican-controlled government—federal funding for teen pregnancy prevention and research, for example. In addition, states have been empowered to cut Title X family-planning programs. Discussion over health reform shows some signs of becoming more open and bipartisan, perhaps bringing more women’s perspectives to the debate. Via Kaiser Health News.
Iowa's Only Remaining Obamacare Insurer Seeks 57% Rate Hike
Iowans who buy their own health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchange would see their rates increase nearly 57% next year under a revised rate proposed Wednesday. The proposal is 13 percentage points higher than previously was estimated by Medica, the one remaining carrier selling individual policies in Iowa next year. Via Des Moines Register.
Cancellation of Bundled Payment Models Reflects White House's Stance on Value-Based Care
The Trump administration's moves to cancel two mandatory bundled payment models and scale back on another means the CMS has to work hard to push providers into value-based care, experts say. The CMS cut the number of locations mandated to participate in the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement, or CJR, model from 67 to 34. It also canceled Episode Payment Models and the Cardiac Rehabilitation incentive payment models that were supposed to begin on January 1, 2018. Via Modern Healthcare.
A Cancer Conundrum: Too Many Drug Trials, Too Few Patients
With the arrival of two revolutionary treatment strategies, immunotherapy and personalized medicine, cancer researchers have found new hope—and a problem that is perhaps unprecedented in medical research. There are too many experimental cancer drugs in too many clinical trials and not enough patients to test them on. Via NY Times.