Waiver Program to Offer States Increased Flexibility

On October 22, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the U.S. Department of Treasury jointly announced new guidance overhauling the 1332 Waiver process, which will take effect in 2020. With modification of the 1332 waiver process, the new policy will address states’ request for greater flexibility. It will also permit states to use waivers to increase choice and competition within their insurance markets, use subsidies to help consumers afford health coverage, and introduce new flexibilities.  

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Week Round-up: Short-Term Health Plans, Premium Decreases, & Carriers Return to ACA Market

On October 10, 2018, Senate came to a decision on whether to move forward with a Democratic resolution to overturn a recent final rule on short term insurance. One day earlier, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) ignited a measure to reverse a recently approved decision on short-term health plans with a discharge petition, forcing a vote on resolution. Despite receiving support, from 49 Democratic Senators and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the petition fell one vote short of being escalated to the Senate floor. As result, the measure of reversing new regulations that allow insurers to sell health plans outside the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has come to a halt.

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Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Healthcare

Social determinants of health (SDoH) are conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, and age that impacts a wide range of health, functioning, and quality of life trajectories. Individual and community behaviors can influence health costs and outcomes regardless of being outside the control of the health system. Understanding social determinants of health is imperative for strengthening health and minimizing longstanding disparities in healthcare. More specifically, focusing on the health care system concerns of health coverage, quality of care, and medical bills is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) can step in. Focusing on the use of AI to model and understand social determinants of health will accelerate us towards a value-based care model while improving and maintaining health instead of treating illness.

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The growth of Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) in the United States

Enrollment in Medicaid and Managed Care Organization (MCO) plans in the United States has reached an all-time high of 74 million recipients. According to Health Affairs, “an estimated 71 percent of Medicaid recipients are receiving their care via private health plans, both investor-owned and nonprofit.” In 2016, research behind the shift showed that managed care plans can provide services that state Medicaid agencies cannot fulfill. For example, network contracting, information technology, and use of management systems to display low-value care can vastly improve the health of beneficiaries. 

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Tim Jost: Continuing Litigation Involving the Affordable Care Act

Within minutes of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, lawsuits were filed challenging its constitutionality.  Over the next six years, dozens of cases were filed challenging the ACA or Obama administration regulations implementing it.  Although most of these cases were dismissed, four made it to the Supreme Court, including one that dramatically changed the scope of the ACA’s coverage of the uninsured by making the Medicaid expansions optional with the states.  Many challenges were brought by Republican attorneys general, who championed the battle against the signature legislative triumph of a Democratic administration.

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Bipartisan Senators Unveil Proposal Aimed at ‘Surprise’ Medical Bills

On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a draft bill targeting surprise medical bills in an effort to protect patients from unexpected and exorbitant charges. If approved, the bill will establish several measures intended to warn patients about additional costs at out-of-network facilities and prevent out-of-network health care providers from charging additional costs for emergency services.

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CMS eliminates barrier to ACA Individual Mandate Exemption

Consumers who abandoned the Obamacare exchanges this year are entitled to a “hardship” exemption to the individual mandate penalty, CMS publicized Wednesday. This will directly affect people who chose to go uninsured or who enrolled in coverage that doesn’t comply with Obamacare protocols. This follows the agency’s April guidance that expanded the exemption to people who live in rural counties or have claims going back to 2016, but applicants still had to give a written explanation for why they required the exemption.

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