Congress has been unable to agree on “market stabilization” for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and it was left out of the recently passed omnibus. Yet, a key discussion has been missing from the conversation, the need to rethink the single risk pool in the ACA.
Throwing money at the status quo will simply slow a market decline, which could leave millions with no access to affordable coverage. Splitting subsidized lives from nonsubsidized into two different risk pools could provide structural relief that allows markets to stabilize longer term.
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to “wind down” support for the federal exchanges by the time open enrollment hits in 2019 and shift funding to states.
For that strategy to work, the agency is relying on Congress to do something it failed to do several times last year: Pass an ACA repeal.
CMS detailed its plan in a fiscal year 2019 budget justification (PDF) released this week that outlines a $403 million cut to its program operations budget next year. With less funding to oversee the federal exchanges for plan year 2020, CMS would dole out grants that allow states to “assume more control of their markets and expand enrollment options.”
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Since the managed care debacle of the 1990s, billions of dollars have been spent in time and resources to improve and measure the quality of patient care. However, measuring the quality of care in the effort to improve it in a cost-efficient manner is showing evidence of being counter-productive, particularly for small physician practices and practices with complex patient populations.
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