Zinn Insurance Blog | Monique Zinn – Healthcare Reform Tidbits
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Healthcare, Healthcare Reform, Medicare & Medicade - Written by on Friday, January 20, 2012 16:50 - 0 Comments

Healthcare Reform Tidbits

THE LATEST ON THE HEALTHCARE REFORM IN THE U.S.

The Big Picture in Washington, D.C.

Most members of the U.S. House will not return to Washington until next week; the Senate takes up business the week after. But there is still plenty going on where health reform is concerned.

1. The Doc fix’

On Dec. 23, the House and Senate agreed on a two-month extension of the so-called “doc fix.” It was part of a bigger deal, which included an extension of unemployment insurance benefits and the payroll tax cut.

Without an agreement, Medicare payments to doctors would have been cut by 27.4% on Jan. 1. While almost nobody thinks that automatic cut or any of the others that have been scheduled under the Sustainable Growth Rate formula would be a good idea, since the result would be a decrease in the number of physicians willing to treat people on Medicare, the very practical challenge Congress always faces is how to pay for an actual fix. So far, a long-term solution has eluded them, so they have implemented short-term patches instead.

Continue Reading about The Doc fix’… 

2. At the Supreme Court

In the last week, the main parties in the health reform lawsuit began filing their opening briefs. Advocacy, consumer and trade groups – including AHIP, America’s Health Insurance Plans – weighed in by filing amicus briefs as well.

Oral arguments are scheduled for five and a half hours over three days: March 26-28. The Court will hear arguments about four different issues:

For more on each of the issues being discussed click here

3. National Health Expenditures Data Released

The National Health Expenditures report, which is prepared annually by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), was released this week. Since 1960, this report has summarized trends in health care spending.

This year’s edition shows that U.S. health care spending experienced historically low rates of growth in 2009 and 2010. The increase in spending for 2009 was the lowest rate in the 51-year history of the report – 3.8 percent. In 2010, the rate of growth was just 0.1 percentage point faster: 3.9 percent, reaching $2.6 trillion, or $8,402 per person. Health care spending accounted for 17.9 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Continue Reading about National Health Expenditure Data Realeased…

4. Regulatory Briefs

Medical Loss Ratios: 

The Department of Health and Human Services has denied waiver requests from Kansas (HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius’ home state) and Oklahoma. Both states had asked for a three-year transition period before fully implementing the 80 percent MLR standard for their individual insurance markets.

HHS also reaffirmed its earlier denial of a request by the state of Louisiana for a waiver of the MLR requirements in the individual market. It denied Florida’s request as well. Florida has asked HHS to reconsider. “Failure to obtain the requested adjustment will cause permanent, irreparable harm to our market and the distribution channel for health products and services,” Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty wrote.

Michigan, Delaware, Indiana and North Dakota also have been denied waiver requests. Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, Kentucky, Georgia and Iowa have had their requests at least partially approved. Decisions for Texas, Wisconsin and North Carolina are pending.

Continue Reading on Regulatory Briefs…

5. Health Reform Briefs

Health reform news from all around:

  • The latest Kaiser tracking poll shows Americans remain divided about the health reform law: 43 percent have unfavorable views; 41 percent have favorable views; 59 percent who lean Democratic support the law; 78 percent who lean Republican oppose it; 29 percent of Independents support it and 47 percent oppose.
  • A new survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Mathew Greenwald & Associates shows that nearly 16 million adults – 7 percent of the population – are now enrolled in consumer-driven health plans, up from 5 percent a year ago.

For more briefs and survey results click here



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