KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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HHS Issues Final Rule To Stabilize Marketplaces; Insurers Pleased But Want Even More Changes

The rule introduces several targeted changes aimed at curbing some of the losses insurers have faced in the law’s exchanges.

Reuters: Trump Administration Issues Final Rule On Stricter Obamacare Enrollment
The Trump administration on Thursday issued a final rule that will shorten the Obamacare enrollment period and give insurers more of what they say they need in the individual insurance market, likely making it harder for some consumers to purchase insurance, healthcare experts said. It could also raise out-of-pocket medical expenses, the experts said, because it gives insurers more flexibility in determining the value of their coverage. (Abutaleb, 4/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Administration Takes Steps To Stabilize Health-Insurance Market
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, published its final rule aimed at steadying the individual market, which has seen large premium increases and insurers retreating from unprofitable markets across the country. President Donald Trump’s administration is pitching the move as a temporary fix, while it continues to work with Congress to strike an elusive deal to dismantle large portions of the health law known as Obamacare. But after GOP leaders yanked their health plan off the House floor late last month, the administration’s moves to either bolster or undercut the existing health-care law have come under increased scrutiny. (Hackman, 4/13)

CQ Roll Call: Health Insurers Score Win On Enrollment Rule For Exchange Plans
The 2018 open enrollment period will be reduced to run from Nov. 1, 2017, to Dec. 15, 2017, a shift from an earlier cutoff date of Jan. 31, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in its final published rule. The earlier deadline will limit the number of people who can purchase insurance after learning they have a health condition that requires medical care, blocking such signups in late December and January, CMS said. Thus, this move will help improve the so-called risk pool for insurers, or the balance of their healthier customers to those in need of costly medical services, the agency said. (Young, 4/13)

Bloomberg: Trump Sweetens Obamacare For Insurers After Repeal Failure 
“These actions are necessary to increase patient choices and to lower premiums,” said Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator, which oversees the health insurance program. “While these steps will help stabilize the individual and small group markets, they are not a long-term cure for the problems that the Affordable Care Act has created in our health-care system.” (Tracer and Edney, 4/13)

Kaiser Health News: Repeal, Replace … Revise: Your Guide To How A Trump Proposal Might Change ACA Insurance
The controversial proposal by the Health and Human Services Department drew letters from nearly 4,000 organizations and individuals during an unusually short, 20-day public comment period that ended in early March. In their comments, consumer groups hated it, saying it would wreak havoc by making it harder to get coverage, while insurers were generally supportive. But such experts as Christopher Condeluci of CC Law & Policy in Washington, D.C., saw the initial proposal released in February by HHS as helpful for insurers, though he also thinks more adjustments are necessary. (Appleby, 4/13)

Modern Healthcare: White House Finalizes ACA Rule To Strengthen Individual Market
The rule, however, does not address the insurance industry's major concern regarding continued enforcement of the individual mandate. It does continue and even increase subsidies for people who buy coverage on the Affordable Care Act's individual coverage exchanges. Both requests were made in a letter sent Wednesday to President Donald Trump that was co-signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which previously supported a rollback of the ACA. Other signers included America's Health Insurance Plans, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Hospital Association. (Dickson, 4/13)

Morning Consult: Trump Administration Makes First Mark On Obamacare With Regulation
As it stands, Cara Kelly, a vice president at Avalere Health, warned the changes may not be enough to keep more insurers from dropping out of marketplaces next year. “These changes likely are not significant enough to sway health plan decisions for the upcoming plan year,” she said. “Losing health plans from the exchanges is still a risk for 2018.” (McIntire, 4/13)

The Associated Press: Insurers Say Trump Must Do More To Stabilize ‘Obamacare’
While calling the administration action a step in the right direction, the industry is looking for a guarantee that the government will also keep paying billions in “cost-sharing” subsidies that help consumers with high deductibles. President Donald Trump says he hasn’t made up his mind on that. (Alonso-Zaldivar and Murphy, 4/14)

The Hill: Trump Admin. Moves To Stabilize ObamaCare Markets 
Marilyn Tavenner, the president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, praised the rule for adopting "important changes" to "improve the functioning of the individual market" but said insurers still need to hear about the cost-sharing reduction subsidies. (Hellmann, 4/13)

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