Lawmakers Optimistic About Breaking Stalemate On Stalled Surprise Billing Negotiations
While many in Congress are agreed that something must be done to address surprise medical bills, the lawmakers have been split over which of a handful of strategies to choose in moving forward. In other health industry and insurance news: record-high debt, gender pay gaps, state health exchanges, and more.
Surprise Billing Negotiations Revived In Congress
After months of stalemate in Congress, committee negotiations on legislation to address surprise medical bills are moving again in both the House and Senate. Bicameral negotiations are ongoing between leaders of the Senate health committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee as other lawmakers in each chamber lobby to get their approaches incorporated into a compromise. Senate health committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said he is optimistic that his negotiations with Senate health Ranking Democrat Patty Murray (Wash.), House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Energy & Commerce Ranking Republican Greg Walden (Ore.) will be productive. (Cohrs, 11/25)
Health Insurers' Debt Has Reached Highest Point In A Decade
Debt issued by publicly traded health insurers has soared over the past decade as the companies have looked to the bond market to raise money for large-scale mergers and acquisitions. Combined short and long-term debt among nine publicly traded insurers reached its highest point in at least 10 years at $115.5 billion in 2018 compared with $24.8 billion in 2009, according to a recent report by credit rating agency AM Best. (Livingston, 11/25)
Sutter Health Postpones Financial Filing
Sutter Health announced Monday it's postponing the release of its third quarter financial results until the court allows it to share the terms of a recently announced settlement agreement in a high-profile antitrust lawsuit. The not-for-profit health system last month reached a tentative settlement in a class action lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court alleging anticompetitive contracting practices. In the notice on Monday, Sutter said it is bound by court-ordered confidentiality requirements and will delay the financial disclosure until the court allows it to share the terms of the settlement. (Bannow, 11/25)
Gender Pay Gap At Healthcare Associations Mirrors The Industry
The gender pay gap in the upper echelons of the healthcare industry is mirrored by the associations that support it. The latest example of this can be seen in the American Medical Association's recently released tax form, which covers calendar 2018. The trade group's 25-person senior leadership team is almost evenly split between men and women. Of those, only three of the nine highest-paid executives listed on the tax form were women. They made an average of about $888,000 in total compensation last year. (Bannow, 11/25)
The CT Mirror:
Statewide Health Exchange Must Have Critical Mass, Financial Stability, Report Finds
As Connecticut prepares to launch a statewide health information exchange, its success will hinge on organizers’ ability to achieve a critical mass of participants and develop plans for long-term financial sustainability, a report by the Connecticut Health Foundation has concluded. The state is making a fourth attempt to implement an exchange that allows doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health providers to access and share patients’ vital medical information electronically – a system meant to improve the speed, quality and cost of care. (Carlesso, 11/25)
The CT Mirror:
The Gray Area In The 'Qualifying Life Event'
Many of us have experienced this gray area, the loss of coverage. Most of us who have experienced this go without coverage. This is not an ideal solution, but it is a solution nonetheless. What if you have a preexisting condition that requires medication? What if you have a car accident? What if you become ill? Then the dreaded cost analysis, number crunching, gut-wrenching decision happens. (Harrison, 11/26)