Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Lengthy Training, Licensing That Health Care Occupations Require Creating Significant Skill Gap For Those Looking For Jobs

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“There just aren’t enough places and schools to get trained for how many people we need in those roles,” said economist Tara Sinclair. An aging population and increase in wealth has contributed to higher demand for health care services, and the skills gap is only going to have a greater impact on the booming industry as it grows. In other health industry news: costly insurance, a hospital whistleblower case, health stocks, state employee premiums, cheating doctors and more.

In Third Suit Against Medicaid Work Requirements, Plaintiffs Say Trump Administration Is ‘Bypassing Legislative Process’

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New Hampshire residents are challenging the Trump administration’s approval of work requirements for Medicaid recipients, after suits filed in Arkansas and Kentucky. Critics of the work requirement waivers say they are an attack on the poor. “This approval will not promote coverage, but it will result in significant coverage losses, and that is the administration’s goal,” said Jane Perkins, legal director of the National Health Law Program, which filed the suit on behalf of the New Hampshire residents. Meanwhile, an analysis finds that most of the 18,000 people kicked of Arkansas’ Medicaid program because they didn’t report work hours are still uninsured. The data contradicts statements from Trump administration and state officials, who have claimed that most of the people who lost Medicaid have found jobs.

Medicaid Work Requirements Move Forward In Iowa State Senate

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The measure, if it becomes law, would require weekly work hours for Medicaid recipients but carves out people with physical and mental conditions. It’s one of several measures moving through red states that would impose restrictions on the program. Medicaid news comes out of New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, as well.

Billionaire-Backed Health Venture ‘Haven’ May Find Itself Facing Legal Challenges Over Name

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There are already dozens of companies named “Haven,” with a large handful that deliver or facilitate health services. “It seems very risky to me,” said Jonathan Bell, managing director of Want Branding, a firm that advises companies on name selection. In other health industry news: health savings accounts, hospitals’ religious policies, cost disclosures, and minimum wage increases.

Medicare Advisers Say ‘Donut Hole’ Changes To Part D Program Could Lead To Spike In Costs For Everyone But Insurers

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MedPAC said that the way Congress made changes to the Medicare Part D program disincentivizes insurers from trying to manage high drug costs because it puts pharma on the hook for a higher percentage of the drugs. In other news, MedPAC advisers are also expected to call on Congress to boost payments to hospitals, and Medicaid advisers will urge lawmakers to rethink cuts to hospitals.

Beyond Work Requirements, Red States Eye Other Restrictions For Medicaid Programs

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Some states are weighing the possibility of adding drug-testing to their programs, while others are investigating capped payments from the federal government. And as Republican-led states move to further restrict Medicaid, the divide between red and blue states is likely to mean wider geographic disparities in health-care coverage and access. Meanwhile, Ohio’s request to add work requirements has been approved by the government.

As House Dems Assemble Budget, A Health Care Reckoning Is On The Horizon Between Centrists And Progressives

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Where to move forward with health care has become a sharply dividing issue with the Democrats. Moderates want to make improvements to the health law, while the left-wing is charging full-tilt toward “Medicare for All.” With their budget, Democrats will signal what their health care priorities are, and the road to decide that will likely be far from smooth.

Contradictions Lay At The Heart Of Trump’s Health Care Priorities In Proposed Budget

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President Donald Trump wants to give hundreds of millions of dollar to fight the HIV epidemic domestically, yet he is also proposing cutting global aid for the disease, as well calling for sharp spending reductions to Medicaid, a program many people with HIV rely upon. The president has taken aim at childhood cancer and the opioid crisis, but also would chip away at infrastructure in health care that would support those goals. Meanwhile, the Washington Post Fact Checker takes a look at Democrats’ take on the proposed Medicare changes in the budget.

Federal Judge Appears Skeptical Over Financial Argument For Medicaid Work Requirements

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“It seems to me that your fiscal sustainability [argument] relies on the fact that they’re lucky to have Medicaid at all,” said Judge James E. Boasberg who is hearing cases out of Arkansas and Kentucky on whether the Trump administration has the authority to grant states the flexibility to add work requirements to their Medicaid programs. Boasberg hopes to issue both decisions simultaneously before Kentucky’s changes are slated to take effect April 1. Meanwhile, CMS is rolling out new tools to help states apply for a work requirement waiver.

O’Rourke Enters 2020 Race With Some Health Law Baggage–And A Centrist Message

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When running as a politician in Texas in 2012, Beto O’Rourke said he didn’t support the health law “in its current form.” Now in 2020, he has touted the importance of universal health care, but like other moderates in the race has been careful to avoid coming out for one particular “Medicare for All” plan.

Democrats Seek Information On Short-Term ‘Junk Plans’ That Were Expanded By Trump Administration

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“Many consumers are being misled to believe that these plans comply with the patient protections of the Affordable Care Act,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). The lawmakers want to know how companies market the short-term plans, what percentage of applicants are denied coverage, and what brokers who sell the insurance are paid.

Medicare Buy-In Proposal Is Viewed As More Moderate Cousin Of ‘Medicare For All,’ But Hospitals Say It Will Still Disrupt System

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The American Hospital Association and Federation of American Hospitals project that Medicare buy-in legislation–which would allow Americans to buy into the program instead of moving everyone onto Medicare–would cost hospitals $800 billion over a decade. Meanwhile, candidates are rushing to show their support for “Medicare for All,” but what does the public think?