What’s New in Health Care Reform: Sept. 6

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.

Obstacles Await as Congress Resumes Health Care Fight

Republican hopes for repealing and replacing former President Barack Obama’s health care law are still twitching in Congress, though barely. Leaders lack the votes to pass something and face a fresh obstacle—the Senate parliamentarian ruled that Republicans only have the ability to dismantle the law with 51 votes until the end of the month. Via AP.

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State Insurance Commissioners Under Pressure in Health-Care Drama

With insurance premiums rising amid congressional Republicans’ failed attack on the Affordable Care Act, a group of bureaucrats whom few Americans can identify hold considerable power over consumers’ health plans: state insurance commissioners. Via Washington Post.

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No Action on Opioid Emergency Three Weeks after Trump Declaration

President Trump on Aug. 10 said the nation’s opioid epidemic was officially a national emergency. More than three weeks later, Trump is dealing with a natural disaster. Hurricane Harvey has displaced tens of thousands, leading Trump to declare federal emergencies in Texas and Louisiana. The decisions have freed up funding to help people who have lost their homes to rising waters. Via The Hill.

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Bipartisan Governors’ Group Shares Plan to Shore up Obamacare

A bipartisan group of eight governors is calling for changes to Obamacare that would increase funding under the law, enforce some of its rules on buying insurance, and encourage more health insurers to participate in the program. The proposal, led by Ohio Republican John Kasich and Democrat John Hickenlooper of Colorado, comes as premiums under the program continue to rise in many states and as insurers have pulled out. Via Bloomberg.

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Trump Administration Sharply Cuts Spending on Health Law Enrollment

The Trump administration is slashing spending on advertising and promotion for enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, a move some critics charged was a blatant attempt to sabotage the law. Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, who insisted on not being identified during a conference call with reporters, said that the advertising budget for the open enrollment period that starts in November would be cut to $10 million, compared with $100 million spent by the Obama administration last year, a drop of 90%. Additionally, grants to about 100 nonprofit groups, known as navigators, that help people enroll in health plans offered by the insurance marketplaces will be cut to a total of $36 million, from about $63 million. Via NY Times.

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Providers Feel the Pain of Slow Medicaid Mental Services Rule Rollout

In the meantime, those patients are spending hours or days in his emergency departments, unable to get the level of care they need. Unlike general acute-care hospitals, free-standing psychiatric facilities have staff that specialize in a gamut of mental illnesses. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Senate Panel Begins Bipartisan Hearings to Try to Improve Affordable Care Act

After years of high-wattage partisan feuding over the Affordable Care Act, a Senate committee is holding the first in a series of hearings to try to build momentum for lawmakers to agree on some ways to strengthen the law’s insurance marketplaces. Via Washington Post.

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Industry Groups Push for Repeal or Delay of Two Affordable Care Act Taxes

Industry groups are ramping up a campaign to repeal or delay two Affordable Care Act taxes that have critics in both parties, the latest effort to tackle the health-care system following the collapse of the broad Republican push to repeal the Obama-era law. The taxes, one on medical devices and another on health-insurance plans, were previously delayed in late 2015 as part of a larger spending package. They now are set to take effect beginning in 2018, unless Congress postpones them again or kills them off entirely. Via Wall Street Journal.

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California, Other States to Extend Obamacare Sign-up beyond Federal Limit

The Trump administration’s rule gives people shopping for 2018 coverage on the federal exchange 45 days to sign up, from November 1 through December 15. But in California and some of the other states that run their own exchanges—Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, and Massachusetts, as well as the District of Columbia—consumers purchasing insurance for themselves this year will have extra time to make decisions. Via Kaiser Health News.

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Trump Ends DACA, Calls on Congress to Act

The Trump administration formally announced it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program—also called DACA—putting an expiration date on the legal protections granted to roughly 800,000 people known as "DREAMers," who entered the country illegally as children. Via NPR.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.

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