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Health Care Edge

Obama Huddles With Insurers - Health Care Edge

April 17, 2014

Obama Huddles With Insurers

By Sam Baker, Sophie Novack and Clara Ritger

WHITE HOUSE MEETING: President Obama and Vice President Biden will meet with insurance executives and state insurance regulators at the White House this afternoon, according to his official schedule. It'll be the first official meeting with industry executives since the end of open enrollment and the last-minute surge in Obamacare sign-ups. The White House hosted several of these meetings during the rocky rollout of HealthCare.gov, but now has a much more positive story to tell -- although insurers are still waiting for big parts of the site to be built, and are concerned that rising health care costs could send their premiums climbing next year.

 

Top Health Care News

GOP FALL STRATEGY: SLAM HEALTH LAW: "Republican leaders are telling the party's House members that persistent criticism of the federal health-care law is the best path to victory this fall regardless of how the law's implementation evolves ahead of the November elections." (Michael R. Crittenden, Wall Street Journal)

HEALTH RISKS FALL SHARPLY FOR DIABETICS: Over the last two decades, heart attacks and deaths from high blood sugar dropped more than 60 percent. But the number of Americans with diabetes more than tripled over the time period. (Sabrina Tavernise and Denise Grady, New York Times)

OBAMACARE IS ON A WINNING STREAK: Strong enrollment and falling costs are giving the White House a lot of positive headlines. (Sam Baker, National Journal)

Medicare

UNITEDHEALTH FIRST QUARTER PROFIT FALLS ON MEDICARE PAYMENT CUTS: First quarter profit fell 7.8 percent, the insurer said, hurt by cuts to the Medicare Advantage program. (Caroline Chen, Bloomberg News)

STUDY: CUTS TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGE TOP $1,500 PER SENIOR: Conservative think tank American Action Forum, led by former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, says nearly all Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will be affected by the administration's cuts to the program. (Sam Baker, National Journal)

NEW MEDICAL DATA COULD ALLOW COMPARISON SHOPPING: Inventors and entrepreneurs hope to create shopping applications where consumers can compare prices on their phones. (Kelly Kennedy, USA Today)

Doctors

CANCER DOCTORS TO EVALUATE DOLLAR VALUE OF TREATMENTS: The American Society of Clinical Oncology is using an algorithm to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive drugs by weighing efficacy, side effects, and price. The organization will encourage physicians to use the findings to talk about treatment costs with their patients. (Sasha Damouni and Robert Langreth, Bloomberg)

MEDICARE CONTINUED PAYING INDICTED DOCTORS: An analysis of recently released Medicare data found that dozens of doctors who received payments from the federal program in 2012 had previously been suspended from Medicaid, charged with fraud, or settled claims of overbilling Medicare. (Charles Ornstein, ProPublica)

HHS

MCCONNELL ON HHS SECRETARY: OBAMACARE IS THE ISSUE: Burwell is "probably going to be confirmed and probably going to have the worst experience of her adult life," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. (Sam Youngman, Lexington Herald-Leader)

SEBELIUS MAY BE CONSIDERING SENATE RUN: Democrats have mentioned the outgoing HHS Secretary as someone who could challenge Kansas Republican Pat Roberts -- an old friend of Sebelius, who called for her removal following the botched HealthCare.gov launch -- for his Senate seat. (Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times)

  • Friends and former colleagues have dismissed the idea that Sebelius would run for Senate so soon after resigning from her cabinet position. (Elise Viebeck, The Hill)

  • Her popularity in Kansas has fallen, and she wouldn't be able to campaign until after leaving her post as HHS Secretary. Reports have said she'd stay on until Burwell is confirmed. (Aaron Blake, Washington Post)

Politics

MEDICAID EXPANSION DEBATE THREATENING GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN IN VIRGINIA: Both sides don't show any sides of budging: Republicans want a balanced budget and Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe campaigned on the issue. (Elahe Izadi, National Journal)

America's Newly Insured

OBAMACARE HELPED UP TO 10 MILLION GET INSURANCE, GALLUP FINDS: The percent of people in the United States living without health insurance plummeted between September and March. (Maggie Fox, NBC News)

OBAMACARE IS REDUCING THE NATION'S UNINSURED...AND HERE'S WHO'S GETTING COVERED: A new set of Gallup surveys finds that party politics played a role into who signed up for Obamacare and who didn't. (Clara Ritger, National Journal)

MORE ON THE INDIVIDUALS WHO GAINED COVERAGE UNDER THE ACA: A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute survey offers insight into the demographics of its estimated 5.4 million people who are newly insured under the Affordable Care Act. Some key points:

  • Of the 5.4 million, about 2.6 million were low-income adults through Medicaid expansion, 2.6 million were middle-income adults eligible for exchange subsidies, and 200,000 wee higher-income adults.

  • Young adults ages 18-30, and nonwhite, non-Hispanic adults -- groups historically more likely to be uninsured -- made large gains in coverage.

  • States that expanded Medicaid saw significantly larger jumps in insured rate than those that did not.

Implementation

OBAMACARE'S SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD COULD HELP YOUTH SIGN-UPS: A big question, though, is whether young people will know that there's still a chance to get covered. (Jason Millman, Washington Post)

NEW DATA SIGNAL SMALLER JUMP IN HEALTH CARE COSTS: Statisticians are estimating a jump of about 6-8 percent next year. Before the Affordable Care Act, premiums rose 7-10 percent on average annually. (Kelly Kennedy, USA Today)

Smoking

A NEW FRONT IN THE WAR AGAINST SMOKING: Susan M. Liss of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids says marketing of e-cigarettes could undermine 50 years of progress. (Christopher Snow Hopkins, National Journal)

REPORTS OF E-CIGARETTE INJURY RISE AMID RISING POPULARITY, U.S. DATA SHOW: The FDA is poised to regulate the new devices. (Toni Clarke, Reuters)

Mental Illness

THERE ARE 10 TIMES MORE MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE BEHIND BARS THAN IN STATE HOSPITALS: Mentally ill inmates aren't getting the treatment they need, a new report says, and it costs the government top dollar to keep them locked up rather than in a medical facility getting care. (Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones)

Happening Today

CBO RELEASES UPDATED BUDGET ESTIMATES: The president's FY2015 budget is set to get a new price tag at 10 a.m.

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