What’s New in Health Care Reform: Oct. 11

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.

Overlooked by ACA: Many People Paying Full Price for Insurance "Getting Slammed"

Paul Melquist of St. Paul, Minnesota, has a message for the people who wrote the Affordable Care Act: “Quit wrecking my health care.” Teri Goodrich, of Raleigh, North Carolina, has the same complaint. “We’re getting slammed. We didn’t budget for this,” she said. Millions of people have gained health insurance because of the federal health law. Millions more have seen their existing coverage improved. But one small slice of the population—including Melquist and Goodrich—are unquestionably worse off. They are healthy people who buy their own coverage but earn too much to qualify for help with paying their premiums. Via Kaiser Health News.

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4 Takeaways as HHS Relaxes Rules on Contraception Coverage at Work

The Trump administration announced new regulations governing contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The rules will make sweeping changes to the law’s requirement that most employers provide coverage of birth control with no out-of-pocket costs to women. The changes were hailed by religious groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which said it was “a return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state.” Via Kaiser Health News.

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Patients, Health Insurers Challenge Iowa’s Privatized Medicaid

Iowa is one of 38 states that radically changed the way it runs Medicaid over the past few years. The state moved about 600,000 people on the government-run health program into care that is managed by for-profit insurance companies. The idea is that the private companies would save the state money, but it has been a rocky transition in Iowa. Via Kaiser Health News.

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White House Plans Order to Expand Health Care Options

The White House is finalizing an executive order that would expand health plans offered by associations to allow individuals to pool together and buy insurance outside their states, a unilateral move that follows failed efforts by Congress to overhaul the health care system. President Donald Trump has long asserted that selling insurance across state lines would trigger competition that brings down premiums for people buying their own policies. Experts say that's not guaranteed, partly because health insurance reflects local medical costs, which vary widely around the country. Via AP.

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Trump Could Make Waves with Health Care Order

President Trump's planned executive order on Obamacare is worrying supporters of the law and insurers, who fear it could undermine the stability of Obamacare. Trump’s order, expected as soon as this week, would allow small businesses or other groups of people to band together to buy health insurance. Via The Hill.

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Trump’s Cuts to Health Law Enrollment Efforts Are Hitting Hard

Michigan Consumers for Health Care, a nonprofit group, has enrolled thousands of people in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and was honored last year as one of the nation’s top performers—a “super navigator” that would serve as a mentor to enrollment counselors in other states. So the group was stunned to learn from the Trump administration that its funds for assisting consumers ahead of the open enrollment period that begins November 1 would be cut by 89%, to $129,900, from $1.2 million. Via NY Times.

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Republicans Privately Admit Defeat on Obamacare Repeal

For the first time, rank-and-file Republicans are acknowledging Obamacare may never be repealed. After multiple failures to repeal the law, the White House and many GOP lawmakers are publicly promising to try again in early 2018. But privately, both House and Senate Republicans acknowledge they may never be able to deliver on their seven-year vow to scrap the law.“Personally, I don’t see it," Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said. Via Politico.

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UnitedHealthcare Goes for Bigger Piece of Minnesota Market

UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest health insurer, said that it plans to start selling coverage next year to commercial groups in Minnesota—a state that has always been the company’s headquarters but hasn’t provided many employer customers. The bigger move into the employer business, plus a planned expansion in Minnesota’s Medicare market the next year, has the potential to shake up large insurance markets that locally based nonprofit health plans have dominated for years. Via Star Tribune.

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Trump Says Health Executive Order 'Probably This Week'

President Trump said that he will be signing an executive order on health care "probably this week" that will provide "great, great health care." Trump's executive order, which has been expected for several weeks, is aimed at allowing small businesses and other groups to join together to buy health insurance through what are known as association health plans. Via The Hill.

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Doctors May Fear Losing Their License for Seeking Mental Health Care

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. physicians are reluctant to seek mental health care out of fear that it might imperil their medical license, a recent study suggests. The reluctance was more pronounced in states where licensing applications questioned doctors about mental health conditions going back more than a year. Physicians in those states were at least 20 percent more likely to report they would be reluctant to seek psychological treatment than doctors in states that asked only about current impairment. Via Reuters.

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Andy Tofilon

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

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