KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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GOP Lawmakers Press CMS On Future Of Eight Co-Ops

At a contentious House committee hearing, Republicans question the viability of the health cooperatives. Also in health care news are a study on efforts to prevent hospital readmissions, a new rule on health care providers with troubled histories, an insurer's restrictions on brokers' payments and enrollment gains.

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Question Viability Of Health Co-Ops
Republican lawmakers on Thursday expressed concern that eight health cooperatives set up under the Affordable Care Act have been put on some type of enhanced oversight or correction plan, saying the situation raises questions about their long-term viability. Some lawmakers questioned whether the co-ops help keep the price of health-insurance premiums in check by providing competition with large insurers. And they lambasted the Obama administration for awarding federal loans to co-ops that failed. (Armour, 2/25)

Modern Healthcare: Congress Grills CMS Over Fate Of ACA'S Remaining Co-Ops
The CMS is closely monitoring the finances of eight of the remaining 11 not-for-profit co-ops created by the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans used the uncertain fate of the insurers as a punching bag for the law during a hearing Thursday. ... Republican lawmakers, who have not voted on or proposed an alternative to the ACA, were concerned the remaining co-ops would close and thereby waste taxpayer money. The CMS issued approximately $2.5 billion in loans to the startup insurers, which amounts to a nominal percentage of the overall HHS budget. Some Republicans said the loans are “propping up Obamacare” when there's no certainty the remaining insurers will be solvent in the future. (Herman, 2/25)

The Hill: ObamaCare Reducing Extra Hospital Stays, Study Finds
People are having to return to the hospital less for costly readmissions because of an Affordable Care Act program, according to a new study by the Department of Health and Human Services. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, finds that an Affordable Care Act program has helped prevent 565,000 hospital readmissions over five years. (Sullivan, 2/25)

Modern Healthcare: CMS Rule Would Mandate Disclosure Of Working Relationships With Blacklisted Providers
Providers would be banned from Medicare and Medicaid if they fail to disclose that they are working with individuals who may be barred from billing the programs or who may owe money to the government, according to a new rule proposed by the CMS. The rule, which also affects the Children's Health Insurance Program, was mandated under the Affordable Care Act. It also authorizes the CMS to deny or revoke a provider's or supplier's Medicare enrollment. It also increases Medicare program re-enrollment bans from three to 10 years. (Dickson, 2/25)

The Chicago Tribune: Blue Cross Eliminates Sales Commissions On Individual Policies
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois will eliminate sales commissions on new individual health plans that take effect April 1, the Tribune has learned. The state's largest health insurer notified insurance agents and brokers of the change via email Tuesday afternoon. Blue Cross' cutback follows commission reductions by other insurers operating in Illinois. Insurers are cutting costs because of losses in the individual insurance market. (Sachdev, 2/24)

The Associated Press: Officials: 1 Million Illinoisans Covered Under Health Law
Officials say more than 1 million Illinois residents have health insurance through programs launched by President Barack Obama's health care law. The number includes more than 388,000 Illinoisans who signed up during the recent marketplace enrollment period and more than 626,000 covered under the Medicaid expansion. It's the first time the figure has topped a million. (2/26)

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Obama To Visit Milwaukee March 3
President Barack Obama will be coming to Milwaukee Thursday to praise the city on its implementation of the Affordable Care Act. ... Milwaukee won the White House's Healthy Communities Challenge. The challenge was a contest among 20 cities to enroll people in health plans sold on the marketplace established by Obama's signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act. (Glauber, 2/25)

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