Early Association Health Plans Defy Fears, Offer Comprehensive Benefits

By Shelby Livingston
Modern Healthcare, Nov. 10, 2018

The Trump administration earlier this year made it easier for small businesses and self-employed workers to band together to buy insurance that didn’t have to abide by all of the ACA’s rules. Employers including Land O’Lakes, several Nevada chambers of commerce, and the National Restaurant Association have formed association plans this year and each say they want to do what’s best for small businesses and their workers by providing an option that may be a better fit for a family than what’s available in the traditional individual and small-group markets. For example, employer Land O’Lakes now offers workers comprehensive coverage at up to 35% less than exchange plans in the state.

The False Promise of ‘Medicare for All’

By Scott Atlas
The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 12, 2018

Nationwide “Medicare for all” would cost more than $32 trillion over its first decade. Doubling federal income and corporate taxes wouldn’t be enough to pay for it. No doubt, that cost would be used to justify further restrictions on health care access. But the problems with single-payer go well beyond cost. In the past half-century, nationalized programs have consistently failed to provide timely, high-quality medical care compared with the U.S. system. That failure has countless consequences for citizens: pain, suffering and death, permanent disability, and forgone wages.

The Path Forward on Health Reform for Conservatives

By Marie Fishpaw and Tim Chapman
The Heritage Foundation, Nov. 13, 2018

The elections show that health care still is a top concern for voters. Members of Congress must now decide how to move forward. Their task: providing a coherent answer to our national anxiety over health care. We can expect repeated efforts from Democrats to push various forms of a government-run health system over the next two years. But conservative policy experts, working together at the national, state, and grassroots levels, have developed an alternative. The Health Care Choice Proposal would make coverage far more affordable—lowering premiums by up to 32%. Moreover, it would ensure that everyone could access a quality, private coverage arrangement of their choice.

Virginia Facing High Unexpected Medicaid Costs

By Alan Suderman
Associated Press, Nov. 2, 2018

Virginia is facing a huge bill for unexpected Medicaid costs that hamper proposed new spending on things like school improvements or tax breaks for the poor. State officials said Friday that Virginia has about $460 million in unforeseen Medicaid costs.Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne said much of the new costs stem from faulty forecasts overestimating the benefits of having private health insurers cover a greater number of some of the state’s more-costly Medicaid recipients. Another reason for the increase is a higher-than-expected enrollment of children in the state’s Medicaid program, he said.

CMS Will Tweak, Not Overhaul, Medicaid Managed Care

By Virgil Dickson
Modern Healthcare, Nov. 8, 2018

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a proposed regulation that gives states more flexibility in running their Medicaid programs. The proposed rule would give states new room to set rates for their managed care plans and ensure that insurance companies have adequate provider networks. CMS worked with Medicaid directors to develop the proposal. “Today’s action fulfills one of my earliest commitments to reset and restore the federal-state relationship, while at the same time modernizing the program to deliver better outcomes for the people we serve,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement.

Rescinding Obama-Era Guidance on ACA Waivers Invites States Back to the Reform Table

By Rea Hederman
The Hill, Nov. 2, 2018

President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services recently announced welcome new guidance to states looking to improve their health care and health insurance systems through “state innovation waivers” under Section 1332 of the ACA. The new guidance gives states significantly more flexibility to devise creative solutions to meet the health care and insurance needs of their constituents, and it builds upon new community engagement waivers that made Medicaid more flexible for states earlier this year. Section 1332 allows states to experiment and creatively tailor their health care coverage programs under certain conditions.

Post-Election Analysis: Interview with Grace-Marie Turner

The Small Business Advocate with Jim Blasingame, Nov. 7, 2018

Grace-Marie Turner, president at the Galen Institute, joins Jim Blasingame to reveal some of the health care reform steps that can be completed even in a divided Congress, including more executive orders by President Trump. Turner also reports on what can be learned by how the midterm election was decided along the different electoral factors including policies and demographics, what the Democrat health care agenda will be in the new Congress, and why “Medicare for All” won’t work.

Election Shifts Health-Care Landscape Across the U.S.

By Stephanie Armour
The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 8, 2018

The midterm elections abruptly shifted the health-care landscape across the country, resulting in a divided Congress that could mean most changes unfold on the state level. Health care was the No. 1 issue among voters this election, according to an AP survey of about 90,000 people. Voters approved ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid in Idaho, Utah and Nebraska while rejecting a similar proposal in Montana. At the same time, dozens of Democrats won on platforms of preserving or expanding the ACA, including some gubernatorial candidates who can take immediate action on Medicaid. The split between red and blue states means that statehouses will continue to pursue opposite directions in health care.

Trump is making Obamacare optional

By Ryan Ellis
Washington Examiner, October 26, 2018

The Trump administration has been hard at work doing what it can to give families more and better healthcare choices than what Obamacare saddled them with. In so doing, the administration has created several welcome escape hatches from Obamacare. From giving employees more flexibility in how they obtain health coverage, to Association Health Plans, less-expensive short-term plans for bridge coverage, and giving states the flexibility to tailor ACA spending more to their citizens’ needs, the Trump administration’s “Obamacare Optional” agenda of more choices and more affordable healthcare is a very robust one.

Short-Term Plans: Affordable Health Care Options for Millions of Americans

By Jonathan Ingram
Foundation for Government Accountability, Oct. 30, 2018

In August 2018, the Trump administration finalized a rule to strengthen short-term plans by allowing individuals to keep them for a period of up to 364 days (and renew them for up to three years). The new rule is one of several strategies the Trump administration has pursued to offer more affordable options to millions of Americans who were priced out of the insurance market by skyrocketing premiums. New research from the Foundation for Government Accountability finds that for the average monthly premium for a 40-year-old non-smoking female, short-term plans would be 59% less expensive than individual market plans. For the same patient, there would be eight times as many short-term plans available.