The state’s antitrust lawsuit against Sutter Health is a welcome move to stop Sutter from inflating health care costs across the Northern California market.

The lawsuit alleges that Sutter has illegally used its market power to compel commercial health plans to contract with all or none of its hospitals, extract exorbitant prices and prohibit use of financial incentives to encourage use of lower-cost providers.

The problem is not just Sutter, however, but insurance-contracted provider networks (preferred provider organizations and health maintenance organizations), where insurers negotiate medical service prices, keep those prices hidden and make other private deals that maximize revenue at purchaser and consumer expense.

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California’s government would set prices for hospital stays, doctor visits and other health care services under legislation introduced Monday, vastly remaking the industry in a bid to lower health care costs.

The proposal, which drew swift opposition from the health care industry, comes amid a fierce debate in California as activists on the left push aggressively for a system that would provide government-funded insurance for everyone in the state.

Across the country, rising health care costs have put the industry, lawmaker and employers and consumers at odds.

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The White House on Friday cleared the CMS to scale back efforts to evaluate Indiana’s conservative approach to Medicaid expansion. The move could prevent the agency from gathering adequate data to determine if the state’s method of expansion harmed access to care.

Some feel that even with a scaled-back study, the CMS could still glean pertinent information from Indiana about the impact its expansion approach has had on Medicaid beneficiaries.

“Surveys were just one element, and getting rid of them is not enough to make or break an evaluation” said Doug Badger, a senior fellow at the Galen Institute, a conservative think tank.

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Maryland lawmakers on Wednesday finalized a bipartisan measure to collect $380 million in taxes from health insurers next year to help curtail surging premiums for 150,000 Marylanders and prevent the state’s Obamacare marketplace from a potential collapse.

The legislation was a quiet, one-year compromise between the Democratic-controlled General Assembly and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who is expected to sign the measures.

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It’s the pragmatists versus the idealists in California’s latest quest for universal health care. Increasing numbers of lawmakers and advocates are pushing for policy goals that realistically can be accomplished this year. But there’s an unrelenting camp clinging to single-payer-or-bust.

The Golden State, which has been pushing back against the Trump administration on multiple fronts, is leaning toward the more incremental approach. This includes bills and budget items that would cover everything from insuring undocumented adults to preventing Medicaid work requirements and shielding the state from insurance products favored by the GOP, such as short-term plans.

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California is indeed the Golden State where Medicaid is concerned. The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found that, by exploiting Obamacare’s expansion of the program, California has enrolled hundreds of thousands of ineligible adults in Medicaid. Consequently, the state has bilked the federal government out of more than $1 billion in funding to which the state was not entitled. Indeed, these figures probably understate the amount of money that California officials have fraudulently extracted from the taxpayers. The OIG sampled a mere six-month period, from October 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015, to arrive at its damning assessment.

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Ohio officials asked the Trump Administration on Friday to formally waive the Affordable Care Act individual mandate that requires residents to have health insurance, making it the first state to make such a waiver request.

Ohio’s Legislature called for the 1332 waiver last summer, and Congress zeroed out the financial penalty for not having coverage in its tax bill in December.

“The (tax) legislation zeroed out the penalty that is associated with the individual mandate … but … did not eliminate the mandate itself,” Ohio Department of Insurance Director Jillian Froment said in a March 30 letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “That is why Ohio is submitting an application to waive [the mandate].”

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A new law in Iowa could provide the path forward for Republican-led states that are looking for ways around ObamaCare’s rules and regulations.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) on Monday signed a law that will allow the Iowa Farm Bureau to collaborate with Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield on self-funded “health benefit plans.”

The plans would be cheaper than traditional ObamaCare plans because they wouldn’t be required to meet federal requirements.

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New health-insurance legislation in Iowa will become the latest test of the ability of states to allow coverage that doesn’t comply with the federal Affordable Care Act.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to soon sign into law a bill that would allow the Iowa Farm Bureau, a nonprofit, to offer health coverage that would fall outside the ACA’s rules. The new coverage, which the legislation calls “health benefit plans,” would be administered by the state’s largest insurer, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield . The product would officially not be considered health insurance, according to the legislation—leaving details of the coverage unclear.

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Earlier this month, the Trump administration shot down a plan from Idaho to sell health insurance that doesn’t comply with Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations.

“If a state fails to substantially enforce the law, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has a responsibility to enforce these provisions on behalf of the State,” wrote CMS Administrator Seema Verma in her rejection letter.

Three weeks later, another state — Iowa — is on the verge of making a similar move.

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