KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Idaho And Utah Seniors Paying Highest Average Premiums For Medicare Drug Plans

The average premium for beneficiaries in that region is more than $10 higher than the national average. In other Medicare news, a new study finds that beneficiaries using Medicare Advantage plans typically have access to less than half of the doctors in their community, and a congressional advisory group urges the repeal of a key provision in the bipartisan law that is revamping Medicare payments to doctors.

Idaho Statesman: We’re No. 1? Idaho Seniors To Pay Highest Medicare Rx Premiums
Idahoans will pay the highest average premium in the U.S. next year for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan for seniors. Next year’s premiums will average $65.52 for plans in Idaho and Utah, a combined market for Medicare Part D. The outsized premiums were spotted by the health insurance comparison website Health Pocket, which analyzed publicly available information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. (Dutton, 10/5)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: More Than A Third Of Medicare Advantage Subscribers Have Limited Physician Choices, Study Finds
A typical senior with a Medicare Advantage plan has access to just 43 percent of physicians in his or her county, a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation has found. Kaiser on Thursday released what it said was the first study to compare the size of networks available without extra fees to Medicare Advantage subscribers, said lead author Gretchen Jacobson, a health economist and expert in Medicare, the government insurance program for seniors and the disabled. (Burling, 10/5)

Modern Healthcare: MedPAC Urges Repeal Of MIPS
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission is pushing for the immediate repeal and replacement of a Medicare payment system that aims to improve the quality of patient care. To avoid penalties under MACRA, physicians must follow one of two payment tracks: the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), or advanced alternative payment models like accountable care organizations. MedPAC wants to junk MIPS as it feels that it's too much of a burden for physicians and won't push them to truly improve care. (Dickson, 10/5)

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