Inside Health Policy
"CMS on Tuesday goes live with a website that discloses what drug and device companies pay physicians, and the doctor lobby already is warning reporters not to misuse the data. Also this week, America's Health Insurance Plans holds three conferences covering key health care issues, and drug-pricing policies are a hot topic with events on protected drug classes; insurance designs that encourage patients to use specialty medicines; and a briefing on the cost and value of new drugs.
The American Medical Association sent reporters a guide for appropriately handling data from the Open Payments website, which Congress created under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.
Rachana Dixit Pradhan, Inside Health Policy
"Three Blue Cross Blue Shield plans operated by Health Care Service Corporation have decided to discontinue their “transitional” non-ACA compliant plans at the end of this year and cancellation notices will be sent to affected policyholders “shortly,” a company spokesperson tells Inside Health Policy. HCSC says the decision was made to help keep premiums for ACA plans affordable, because moving those enrollees into compliant plans will result in a more balanced mix of individuals.
Transitional plans that were on the market this year from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma will be discontinued effective Jan. 1. One source tracking state developments said the Blues appear to be discontinuing the plans on its own volition. The Blues participated aggressively in the exchanges in the first year while many other carriers remained cautious about entering the new markets, though that is beginning to change for 2015.
"Views of Obamacare hold steady again this week, with over half of voters continuing to express an unfavorable opinion of the national health care law and overwhelming majorities still calling for choices in health insurance that the law doesn’t allow.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% of Likely U.S. Voters share a favorable view of the health care law, while 52% view it unfavorably. This includes 19% with a Very Favorable opinion and twice as many (37%) with a Very Unfavorable one."
Marissa Evans, Morning Consult
"When it comes to health insurance exchanges, there’s nothing like the first time to grab voters’ attention and enthusiasm.
Morning Consult polling found 47 percent of voters say they are not at all likely to purchase health insurance through an online exchange this year. In the weeks before the start of open enrollment in 2013, that figure was 19 percentage points lower, with only 28 percent saying they were not at all likely to purchase insurance on the exchange. Voters’ stated likelihood of buying insurance decreased across all categories from 2013 to 2014."
Chad Terhune, Sandra Poindexter, Doug Smith, LA Times
"Finding a doctor who takes Obamacare coverage could be just as frustrating for Californians in 2015 as the health-law expansion enters its second year..
The state's largest health insurers are sticking with their often-criticized narrow networks of doctors, and in some cases they are cutting the number of physicians even more, according to a Times analysis of company data. And the state's insurance exchange, Covered California, still has no comprehensive directory to help consumers match doctors with health plans."
The Associated Press
"The government's own watchdogs tried to hack into HealthCare.gov earlier this year and found what they termed a critical vulnerability - but also came away with respect for some of the health insurance site's security features.
Those are among the conclusions of a report being released Tuesday by the Health and Human Services Department inspector general, who focuses on health care fraud."
Dan Way, Carolina Journal
"RALEIGH — A sizable number of North Carolina residents are learning they are no longer eligible for Obamacare, and some health policy premiums could jump 60 percent within two years, an insurance official says.
Rufus Langley, an Apex insurance agent and state leader of the North Carolina Association of Health Underwriters, said Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas CEO Tracy Baker recently told his group that substantially higher consumer costs are anticipated.
“He can see in 2016 this thing shooting up anywhere from 30 to 60 percent in costs” as delayed taxes start to kick in this year and next year, and medical care costs still rising, Langley said Monday at a Raleigh panel discussion."
Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press
"A significant benefit of the Affordable Care Act is the opportunity to receive money-saving tax credits upfront to reduce the overall cost of health insurance.
But hundreds of thousands of consumers could owe more money for federal income taxes come April if they received advance payments of the premium tax credit for health insurance. Some married couples could owe $600 or $1,500 or $2,500 or even more."
Christopher Cadelago, Sacramento Bee
"The Affordable Care Act continues to divide Californians, who remain skeptical four years after its passage despite the state’s relatively smooth launch in which more than 1.2 million people enrolled in health insurance coverage.
A new survey released late Tuesday found some 42 percent of state residents generally view the law favorably, while 46 percent harbor unfavorable opinions. Support is down somewhat since May, before a wave of targeted TV ads began in a handful of competitive congressional districts."
Los Angeles Times
"The 2010 federal healthcare law experimented with a number of ways to limit healthcare costs, but the real impetus to hold down spending has come from those who pay for coverage — most notably large employers and governments — and from doctors, hospitals and insurers seeking more sustainable business models. A good illustration is the HMO established recently by Anthem Blue Cross and several top Southern California hospitals, which will reward healthcare providers if they cut waste while improving patients' results. It's a welcome development, although the industry will have to go even further to rid itself of the perverse incentives that drive up costs."