News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Early ACA exchange rate filings signal an end to massive premium hikes
FierceHealthcare

Early exchange plan rates requested by insurers in several states suggest massive premium hikes may be a thing of the past.

In Washington, for example, 13 payers that intend to participate in the state’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) markets have filed a “record low” average of under 1%, Washington’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner announced.

There will be at least one insurer participating in all 39 counties, according to the announcement, leaving no bare counties.

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60% of ACA exchange insurers plan to broaden participation in 2020: survey
FierceHealthcare

Insurance companies plan to up their number of Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans available in 2020, according to eHealth’s latest survey of health insurance companies on enrollment trends.

As of May, 45% of insurers said they intend to add to the number of ACA plans they will offer in 2020, compared to 21% who added plans for 2019. Overall, 60% said they plan to “broaden” their participation in the markets next year.

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The Health 202: Health-care worker shortages would be even worse without immigrants
The Washington Post

Health-care jobs are among the fastest-growing sectors in the historically low-unemployment economy President Trump loves to tout. It’s immigrants who fill a lot of them — something the president might consider as he seeks new limits on immigration.

Immigrants — both citizens and noncitizens — make up a disproportionate share of workers who care for the elderly and disabled and ensure their surroundings are safe, according to a study published this week in the health policy journal Health Affairs.

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CMS looks at revising HCAHPS survey
Modern Healthcare

The CMS is interested in making changes to its mandatory and long-standing patient experience survey for hospitals.

In a notice to the Office of Management and Budget, the CMS requested approval to collect public feedback on possible changes to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey, commonly referred to as HCAHPS.

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With high stakes for employer-based insurance, Senate seeks hospital contract reform
Modern Healthcare

Some healthcare experts view the Senate health committee’s proposed reforms to hospital and insurer contracts as essential to try to sustain the employer-based insurance system in the face of bloating costs.

Yet even as the healthcare industry seems bent on defending the commercial market against calls for a single-payer system, hospitals are poised to fight at least some of these policies.

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State, SF team up to block rule allowing healthcare providers to claim religious exemptions
San Francisco Examiner

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera both asked a federal court Tuesday to block a new rule by the administration of President Donald Trump that would allow health care institutions and workers to refuse services on religious grounds.

The rule announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last month is due to go into effect on July 22. It would deny federal health, welfare and education funds to states and local governments that don’t comply.

Becerra and Herrera filed lawsuits in federal court in San Francisco in May to challenge the rule and on Tuesday followed up with motions for preliminary injunctions blocking its enforcement.

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Automation to disproportionately affect women in healthcare
Modern Healthcare

An emergency department in 2030 is poised to look much different as automation takes hold, and those changes are likely to disproportionately affect women in healthcare, according to a new report.

Automation will displace as many as 1 in 4 female workers across all sectors, or 160 million women, but that will be offset by an increase in demand and productivity, according to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute. That does not account for “frontier” jobs that one could not even imagine today, said Kweilin Ellingrud, a senior partner at McKinsey and co-author of the report.

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Do you have a plan to retire by 50? Great, but can you cover your health care?
USA Today

So you’re ready to sock away half your income, earn more through side hustles and aggressively invest so you can become financially independent and retire before age 50.

But a big obstacle threatens to keep you from joining the financial independence/retire early movement, popularly known as FIRE: the high costs of health care and health insurance.

Without a job and too young for Medicare, what health care insurance options remain for early retirees and their family?

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Dropped From Health Insurance Without Warning: Was It Legal?
Kaiser Health News

Caitlin and Corey Gaffer know they made a mistake.

Anyone could have done the same thing, the Minneapolis couple says. Still, they can’t believe it cost them their health insurance coverage just as Caitlin was in the middle of pregnancy with their first child.

“I was like ‘What?’ There’s no way that’s possible,” said Caitlin, 31, of her reaction to the letter she opened in early October telling them the coverage they had for nearly two years had been canceled. It cited nonpayment of their premium as the reason.

Except they had paid the bill, they thought.

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How Doctors Can Stop Stigmatizing — And Start Helping — Kids With Obesity
National Public Radio

Kids with obesity face a host of health problems related to their weight, like high blood pressure, diabetes and joint problems.

Research points to another way heavier children and teens are at risk: their own doctors’ bias. This prejudice has real health consequences for kids, making families less likely to show up for appointments or get recommended vaccines.

I am a family physician at a community health center in Washington, D.C., and many of my young patients have obesity. It’s no surprise. Obesity is the most common chronic disease that affects children and teens in the U.S. One-third of American kids are overweight or obese.

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‘Well’ Explores The Social And Political Underpinnings Of Health
National Public Radio

The typical American conversation about health focuses on personal choice as a key driver — the foods we choose to eat, the number of steps we log each day, the doctors we visit and the medicines we take. But epidemiologist Sandro Galea says that way of thinking is the wrong way.

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Judge signals broad CVS-Aetna antitrust concerns
Modern Healthcare

A federal judge who has refused for months to sign off on the $69 billion CVS-Aetna merger reiterated on Tuesday that he wants to look at any potential harm that the deal might cause for the public.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C., kicked off a three-day hearing as he considers whether to sign off on the U.S. Justice Department’s approval of the merger. The judge must finally authorize the government’s decision under the Tunney Act, but it isn’t clear whether he can actually stop the CVS-Aetna deal as the two companies are largely operating as one.

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CVS turning 1,500 stores into HealthHUB locations with less retail, more health care
USA Today

Get ready for less retail floor space and more room for health care services at one of your local CVS stores.

CVS Health is poised to expand a concept store focused on health care to 1,500 locations by the end of 2021, the company said Tuesday.

The drugstore chain launched the concept store, called HealthHUB, in the Houston area earlier this year.

The premise stems from the company’s effort to reduce its reliance on sales of retail goods and increase its commitment to health care services. The company recently closed 46 struggling stores as it competes with Amazon and other retail rivals for customers.

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CVS to aggressively expand healthcare services in stores
Modern Healthcare

If CVS Health officials felt uneasy about the federal hearing into the company’s Aetna acquisition that started Tuesday, they certainly didn’t let on as they boasted to analysts and investors in New York about their plans to dramatically expand the scope of healthcare services their stores will offer.

CVS will launch a fleet of 1,500 so-called HealthHUBs in its stores by the end of 2021, company leaders announced Tuesday. CVS piloted the concept at three locations in Houston this year and, encouraged by their early success, plan to expand it to 50 locations in additional markets by year-end. By the end of 2021, CVS plans to have 1,500 HealthHUBs up and running nationwide.

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