First Edition: September 19, 2014
Today's headlines include reports from a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform where the Obama administration provided its latest number -- 7.3 million -- of people who bought private insurance through the health law.
Kaiser Health News: Much Does That X-Ray Cost? You Can Find Out In New Hampshire
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: “New Hampshire is among 14 states that require insurers to report the rates they pay different health care providers —and one of just a handful that makes those prices available to consumers. The theory is that if consumers know what different providers charge for medical services, they will become better shoppers and collectively save billions. In most places, though, it’s difficult, if not impossible to find out how much you will be charged for medical care. And with more people enrolled in high-deductible insurance plans, there is a growing demand for accurate price information” (Appleby, 9/18). Read the story, which also ran in the Miami Herald.
Kaiser Health News: For Autistic Adults, Coverage Options Are Scarce
Kaiser Health News’ consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: “It’s getting easier for parents of young children with autism to get insurers to cover a pricey treatment called applied behavioral analysis. Once kids turn 21, however, it’s a different ballgame entirely” (Andrews, 9/19). Read the story.
The New York Times: Health Care Act Still Covers 7.3 Million
The Obama administration said Thursday that 7.3 million people who bought private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act had paid their premiums and were still enrolled. Marilyn B. Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, disclosed the latest count at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Pear, 9/18).
Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Enrollment Falls Slightly To 7.3 Million In August
Enrollment in health plans offered through the Affordable Care Act dropped slightly through this year, falling from about 8 million this spring to 7.3 million in mid-August, the Obama administration announced Thursday. The tally represents the first update the administration has provided since the April close of the open enrollment period (Levey, 9/18).
The Wall Street Journal: Obama Administration Says 7.3 Million Who Picked Health Plans On Exchanges Have Paid Premiums
The Obama administration said Thursday that 7.3 million people who picked health plans through the new insurance exchanges had paid premiums and retained their coverage as of mid-August, suggesting that at least 700,000 people who signed up for coverage earlier this year later let it go. The number of people with paid-up coverage has long been the subject of contention. Republican critics of the law had said President Barack Obama's announcement earlier this year that 8 million people had applied for plans through HealthCare.gov and state exchanges by the main mid-April deadline was less important than a concrete count of how many had paid their premiums. Paying is the final step necessary for people to enroll in coverage (Radnofsky, 9/18).
Politico: 7.3 Million In Obamacare Plans, Beats CBO Forecast
The administration’s announcement that 7.3 million people are now enrolled in health insurance plans on the Obamacare exchanges immediately ignited a new round of arguments about the success or failure of the health law. The figure — which is the number who had signed up and paid as of mid-August — is a drop from the 8 million who had chosen plans but not necessarily paid by mid-April. But it’s much higher than the 6 million that the Congressional Budget Office forecast would be covered this year, a number that seemed unattainable when the botched launch of HealthCare.gov slowed signup to a crawl last October (Haberkorn, 9/18).
The Associated Press: Health Law Enrollment Now 7.3M
As expected, the latest figures showed slippage. Insurers had said that about 10 percent of their new policyholders failed to seal the deal by paying their first month’s premium. Tavenner, whose agency oversees HealthCare.gov, said the new count represents paying customers as of Aug. 15. She expects total enrollment to remain basically stable until the next open enrollment season starts Nov. 15 (9/18).
The Washington Post: Va. Legislators Approve Budget Deal, Reject Medicaid Expansion
State legislators united across party lines Thursday to plug a $2.4 billion hole in the state budget but quickly reverted to bitter partisanship as they debated Medicaid expansion, with House Republicans ultimately killing a bill to expand the health-care program without giving it a formal vote (Vozzella and Weiner, 9/18).
Politico: CMS Glitch Could Cost Doctors Millions
Physicians who just spent hundreds of millions of dollars to install new electronic health record systems will face millions in federal penalties due to a technical glitch that affects their compliance with a federal program, vendors and doctors say. “It’s beyond understanding why we’d be penalized after making such an investment,” said Dr. Jonathan Lowry, an eye specialist and surgeon at Morganton Eye Physicians in western North Carolina. “This was not our fault” (Allen, 9/18).
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: The New $84,000 Hepatitis C Treatment Is Losing Momentum, For Now
After recording the best launch of any drug in history, it looks like the pace is starting to slow down for Gilead Sciences' Sovaldi — the new $84,000 hepatitis C cure that's sparking a new focus on specialty drug costs. Data released by CVS Health on Tuesday show that use of Sovaldi has slowed down since May after the drug's record-setting start last December. The slowdown can partly be explained by the health-care industry's anticipation of more hepatitis C treatments soon hitting the market, including another one from Gilead that could gain FDA approval any day now (Millman, 9/18).
The Wall Street Journal’s Pharmalot: Ranbaxy Faces Medicaid Pricing Probe By The Justice Department
Manufacturing woes are not the only issue plaguing Ranbaxy Laboratories. The generic drug maker has been asked by the U.S. Department of Justice to provide documents on pricing data provided to Medicaid, according to a filing with the Bombay Stock Exchange (Silverman, 9/18).
The New York Times: U.S. Aims To Curb Peril Of Antibiotic Resistance
The Obama administration on Thursday announced measures to tackle the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, outlining a national strategy that includes incentives for the development of new drugs, tighter stewardship of existing ones, and improvements in tracking the use of antibiotics and the microbes that are resistant to them (Tavernise, 9/18).
The Washington Post: Obama Directs Federal Agencies To Ramp Up Efforts To Deal With Antibiotic Resistance
After years of warnings from the science and medical communities about the depletion of the world’s arsenal of effective antibiotics, President Obama directed federal agencies Thursday to significantly ramp up their efforts to deal with the threat (Ellis Nutt, 9/18).
The Wall Street Journal: Obama Orders Plan Against Antibiotic Resistance
The White House unveiled new measures on Thursday to try to preserve the effectiveness of infection-fighting drugs as strains of bacteria become increasingly resistant to the existing arsenal of antibiotics. The moves signal a growing concern over drug-resistant infections, which are linked to two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some infections are almost entirely untreatable because the appropriate antibiotics have been rendered powerless (Tracy and Burton, 9/18).
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