Health News Round Up, early June

Some recent notable healthcare news:

The New York Times [06-01-17, Robert Pear] reported that the Trump administration is moving to revise a federal rule that could result in the loss of contraceptive coverage for hundreds of thousands of women.  While the Supreme Court”s Hobby Lobby decision had given “closely held” corporations the option to not cover contraception on religious grounds, the Times describes that the Trump rule would extend this exemption to other sorts of for-profit corporations as well as not-for-profit organizations, and also to widen the grounds for the exemption beyond religious reasons alone.

The New York Times [06-06-17, Reed Abelson] reported that Anthem was abandoning the ACA marketplace in Ohio, a move that could leave up to 10,500 people in the state uninsured.  This comes on the heels of marketplace departures by a number of other carriers, which the Times notes is being used as evidence by Republicans that the ACA is in a death spiral.

The New York Times [06-08-17, Robert Pear] reported that the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) has now called for Congress to fund these cost-sharing subsidies.  The subsidies lower out-of-pocket spending for those who purchase ACA marketplace plans and earn less than 250% of the federal poverty level.  As noted by the Times, a Federal District Court found that governments payments to insurers to cover the cost-sharing reductions was illegal.  Payments have thus far continued while the decision is being appealed, but the Trump administration has threatened to end them, contributing to turmoil in the ACA marketplaces.

Politico [06-08-17, Adam Cancryn, Jennifer Haberkorn, Burgess Everett] describes difficulties facing Senate Republicans as they aim to forge a compromise ACA repeal bill that satisfies both their more conservative and more moderate members.  While, as Politico notes, the Senate bill is likely to slow the rate of Medicaid cuts (as compared to the House bill) and to increase marketplace subsidies for older enrollees, reaching consensus may be difficult if the Senate is to vote on the bill by July 4, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised.

Vox [06-09-17, Sarah Kliff] reported that some 38,000 individuals—spread among 47 counties in three states—who are now enrolled in ACA marketplace plans may have no health insurance options in 2018 as more insurers withdraw from ACA marketplaces, a development stemming in part from actions of the Trump administration’s, like its threat to end payments to insurers for ACA cost-sharing reductions.