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Health Exchange Alert Weekly Report - 08/23/2017

  • State Officials To Testify At Senate Market Stabilization Hearings

    State insurance commissioners will testify before the Senate health committee on Sept. 6 and governors will follow up on Sept. 7 as Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Democrat Patty Murray (WA) lead the effort on a stabilization package for the individual markets in 2018. Alexander reiterated his previous statements that he wants a package in place by Sept. 27.

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  • States Brace To Mitigate Consumer Uncertainty During Open Enrollment

    States and navigators face extra challenges in promoting their exchanges as they head into open enrollment: They don't know what kind of federal support and outreach to expect; the enrollment period has been cut in half (an abbreviation that wasn't supposed to take effect until next year); and Congress' tumultuous attempts to overturn the Affordable Care Act have confused the general public, leading some enrollees to believe the law and its coverage no longer exist.

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  • NAIC Pushes Slew Of Reg Changes To Stabilize Market, Affirm State Authority

    State insurance commissioners are pushing the Trump administration to embrace a slew of recommendations they say would help stabilize the health insurance market, improve choice and affordability for consumers, and affirm states' regulatory authority, in response to CMS' request for stakeholders' suggestions. Most of the commissioners' proposals focus on amending or repealing rules seen as encroaching upon states' traditional role in regulating their insurance markets, as well as loosening barriers to state flexibility.

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  • Dems Proposing Coverage Solutions, Sanders Single-Payer Bill On Deck

    Republican health reform efforts may have stalled but Democrats are moving forward on a number of proposals that aim to build on the existing infrastructure in a move toward universal coverage and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) will soon introduce legislation that would expand Medicare to all Americans. Sanders, who is joining Medicare for All -champion John Conyers (D-MI) in a town hall on Tuesday, plans to unveil his bill, with original co-sponsors, sometime in September.

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  • Anthem To Stay In Colorado Exchanges In 2018

    Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Colorado has decided to stay in Colorado's individual market for 2018, the state's insurance division announced Wednesday (Aug. 16). Analysts said in March the carrier might exit the exchanges completely following a report that the insurer's management had met with Wall Street to discuss leaving. Anthem told investors in August that it was reviewing participation on a case-by-case basis but that exits could be expected if the cost-sharing reduction payments were not funded.

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  • Maryland, CT Sticking To Dec. 15 Enrollment For Now

    While several state-based exchanges have already decided to extend their open enrollment periods past the federal government's Dec. 15 deadline for states relying on Healthcare.gov, at least two will be sticking with that deadline for now.

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  • Kasich, Hickenlooper To Unveil Their Own Bipartisan Health Fix

    The vocal bipartisan gubernatorial duo -- John Kasich (R-OH) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) -- said they will soon release their own health care proposal in a joint interview on Colorado Public Radio Monday (Aug. 21). The governors' key ideas as they discussed them on Colorado Matters included instituting a reinsurance mechanism, funding the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reduction payments and raising the employee minimum for small businesses required to buy group coverage, with Medicaid reforms left for a future discussion.

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  • Doctor-Patient Rights Project Reignites Issuer, Drug Maker Feud

    The insurance industry is hitting back at a new campaign that aims to make a point that medical management techniques, like step therapy and prior authorization, impair consumer access to medication. Officials with America's Health Insurance Plans suggest the campaign is yet another thinly veiled attempt by the pharmaceutical industry to divert attention from drug makers' role in skyrocketing costs of drugs by blaming other stakeholders.

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  • Rule Loosening ACA Contraceptive Mandate Expected Out Soon

    Womens groups and other advocates groups are bracing for HHS to release an "interim final rule" that, if identical to a draft version leaked in May, would make it easier for employers to opt out of the Affordable Care Act's requirement to provide cost-free coverage of FDA-approved contraceptives. The rule, if unchanged, would spur lawsuits, according to several woman's advocates who spoke with Inside Health Policy after the draft version was leaked May 31.

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  • Two Co-Ops Seeking To Transition To For-Profit Entities Miss 2018 Deadlines

    Two of the remaining health insurance co-ops created under the Affordable Care Act failed to complete a transition into for-profit entities for the 2018 plan year -- and are both now in receivership -- but there is still hope that they may be able to offer products in future years. Minuteman Health, which sold plans in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, announced Wednesday (Aug. 16) that its new entity, Minuteman Insurance Company, had secured neither the funding nor the needed state licensing in time to participate. Maryland's co-op Evergreen Health had been on track to transition to a new entity until late July when its investors pulled out after getting new financial information, according to the Baltimore Sun. Maryland's insurance commissioner tells Inside Health Policy that other investors have made inquiries about purchasing the issuer out of receivership.

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  • Covered CA Hedges On Rates Until Sept. 30; Approves Stabilization Package

    The nation's largest state-based exchange said Thursday (Aug. 17) that it will hold off on finalizing 2018 premium increases until Sept. 30 due to ongoing federal uncertainty, including the potential that Congress will fund the ACA's cost-sharing reductions. Covered California's Board of Directors also approved several policies to help stabilize the market, including additional outreach funding and new contract language that allows issuers to recoup unexpected losses caused by federal policy changes.

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  • First Focus: States Will Freeze CHIP Enrollment Before Exhausting Funds

    States will freeze enrollment in the Children's Health Insurance Program before they run out of money, First Focus President Bruce Lesley warns. Most states could manage to keep CHIP running briefly past the Oct. 1 expiration of federal funding, but Lesley says there will be disruptions to the program before states exhaust that funding.

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  • 2018 Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim Will Stay In New Hampshire; Minuteman Out

    New Hampshire's insurance department announced Wednesday (Aug. 16) -- the deadline for federally facilitated exchange issuers to submit all QHP data except rate filings to regulators -- that Anthem and Harvard Pilgrim will stay in the state's exchange market in the face of market instability exacerbated by ongoing uncertainty from the federal government. The insurance department also said that it is allowing plans to revise their rates to assume that the cost-sharing reductions will not be reimbursed moving forward. CMS last week extended the rate filing deadline from Aug. 16 until Sep. 5 in order to provide time for plans to make adjustments.

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  • White House To Pay August CSRs

    The White House told Inside Health Policy that it will pay insurers the ACA cost-sharing reduction payments due next week, an announcement coming one day after the Congressional Budget Office found that officially ending the payments would cost the federal government $194 billion over 10 years.

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  • Wichmann Will Take Over As UnitedHealth CEO; Hemsley Moves To Board

    UnitedHealth Group has changed up its executive leadership with current President David Wichmann set to take over as CEO Sept. 1 as current CEO Stephen Hemsley steps into the newly created position of executive chair of the carrier's board of directors. Current board chair Richard Burke will become the lead independent director. The company announced the changes Wednesday (Aug. 16).

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