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.
MNsure, Insurers Seeking More Sign-Ups
Minnesota's individual health insurance market isn't what it used to be, but after three years of declines, health plans are cautiously optimistic it won't shrink any further in the coming year. Open enrollment for individual plans, including those sold on the state's MNsure exchange, starts Nov. 1. Via Star Tribune.
Iowa Is Changing a Core Medicaid Requirement
The Trump administration has approved a waiver from Iowa, effective November 1, that says the state will not have to provide Medicaid coverage to low-income people for the three months prior to when they applied. Via Axios.
Expect Trump to Ask for "Billions" to Fight Opioid Epidemic
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said in an interview that he expects President Trump to first ask for “billions” of dollars to fight the opioid epidemic. “I think it’s going to be the subject of negotiation with Congress,” Christie told ABC’s “This Week.” Via The Hill.
Trump Administration Proposes Health Law Benefit Changes
The Trump administration proposed new health insurance regulations that could affect basic benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, but not for a couple of years. Loosening “Obamacare” benefit requirements was a major sticking point for congressional Republicans in thus-far fruitless efforts to repeal the law. The complex new plan from the administration would give states a potential path to easing some requirements. Via AP.
MNsure Backers Say Being Local Works in Health Care Sign-Up
Minnesota is among 11 states and the District of Columbia that run their own Affordable Care Act market places. Each has a website where people can buy coverage if they don't get health insurance through their job or a government program. They're in charge of their own marketing and enrollment assistance programs, so they're largely immune from Trump administration actions that critics warn will reduce 2018 individual-market enrollment. Via MPR.
Trump Declares the Opioid Crisis a Public Health Emergency
With Trump's declaration, the federal government will waive some regulations, give states more flexibility in how they use federal funds and expand the use of telemedicine treatment, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters. Via Washington Post.
CMS Wants Docs to Spend More Time on Patients, Less on Paperwork
As part of the Patient over Paperwork initiative, CMS officials will travel the country to gather information on the impact their regulations have on physicians. Those conversations have been taking place informally for weeks. The outreach effort comes at a time that primary-care physicians are spending 27% of their time on clinical activities and 49% on administrative activities, according to a 2016 Annals of Internal Medicine study. The CMS now releases around 58 rules, or 11,000 pages of regulation, each year. CMS Administrator Seema Verma said she consistently hears that meaningful use requirements, which measure how well providers are using health IT, are far too burdensome without offering much benefit, and quality measures tied to various pay models need to be rethought to ensure they are actually leading to better care and lower costs. Via Modern Healthcare.
The Steady Pace of Health Care Deals
Health care mergers and acquisitions slowed a bit over the summer, but the industry still has kept bankers and consultants busy since the Affordable Care Act went into effect. The health care industry has initiated more than 200 deals per quarter for 12 straight quarters, including 211 in the third quarter of 2017, according to a report from PwC. Via Axios.
Some Affordable Care Act Premiums Set to Jump for 2018
The federal HealthCare.gov website posted new details about what plans will be available for 2018 under the health law. Open enrollment starts on November 1. Avalere Health, a consulting firm, said premiums on middle-tier silver-level exchange plans are set to rise by an average of 34% in the 39 states that use HealthCare.gov, based on the newly released federal data. The average increase for bronze plans is 18%, and for richer, gold coverage, it is 16%. Via Wall Street Journal.
Administration Denies More States' Plans to Customize Insurance Markets
Two states looking for approval to customize their health insurance systems under the Affordable Care Act reversed course after the Trump administration said their applications couldn't be approved in time for next year. Iowa withdrew its proposal to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for a waiver to alter its Affordable Care Act markets. Massachusetts' proposal was effectively denied by the administration. Both states sought to use some of the money that would have gone toward subsidies for consumers to instead create reinsurance programs that would protect insurers from major losses. Reinsurance often lowers premiums. Via NPR.