Health insurers in the Medicare Advantage market can use a new final CMS rule to increase variation in health plans and benefits in 2019. Meaningful difference requirements are being removed and plans will be able to customize cost sharing and beneficiary deductibles.
There are glitches in the April launch of the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program, as just a few locations are operating nationwide and there is no easy way to find information, experts said. AHIP's Cathryn Donaldson said it is too early to know how Medicare Advantage plans, which are required to offer the benefit, will handle implementation due to accessibility issues.
Wisconsin asked the federal government for a waiver to allow it to offer a $200 million reinsurance program aimed at reducing insurance premiums and attracting additional providers in the private marketplace. The program would allocate money to health insurers to pay for about half of medical claims costing between $50,000 and $200,000.
California lawmakers and policymakers are among the most aggressive in the nation in taking steps to expand health coverage under the Affordable Care Act and oppose federal efforts to roll it back. The state's ACA marketplace, Covered California, continues to offer a three-month sign-up window and touts a $45 million advertising budget to encourage people to sign up.
Insurance plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act but were grandfathered in after the law took effect will be allowed in Iowa through 2019, the Iowa Insurance Division announced. The ruling applies to individuals and small groups with transitional health plans that were purchased after the ACA was passed but before it was implemented.
A bill that would let Affordable Care Act customers and employers buy Medicare coverage was unveiled Wednesday by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn. The legislation, which is co-sponsored by 10 Senate Democrats, would also permit the government to negotiate Medicare drug prices and extend eligibility for ACA subsidies to 600% of federal poverty level.
A WalletHub report ranked Vermont, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts as the top places in the US for pediatric health care, while Nevada, Louisiana and Texas ranked the worst. Vermont, Delaware, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and D.C. had the most pediatricians and family doctors per capita, while New Hampshire, Washington, Colorado, Utah and Oregon had the lowest pediatric obesity rates.
Health insurance providers across the US are working to improve end-of-life care for people with serious illnesses. The Cambia Health Foundation funds projects that promote awareness and access to end-of-life care; Regence revised its health policies to provide palliative support benefits for its 1.7 million members; Cigna teamed up with Aspire Health to pilot in-home palliative care services; while Blue Shield of California expanded its home-based palliative care program to cover the entire state.
A group of senators led by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar urging the agency to negotiate a cheaper price for naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug. "By bringing down the cost, we can get this life-saving drug in the hands of more people as called for by the Surgeon General. Doing so will save countless lives," the senators wrote.
Sixty-six percent of curriculum-based, exercise-based, mindfulness and yoga, social and personal skills, and family-based interventions were associated with consistent self-regulation improvements in children and teens, UK researchers reported in JAMA Pediatrics. The findings, based on a systematic review and meta-analysis of 49 studies involving 23,098 youths ages 2 to 17, also showed that most intervention groups had better academic, behavioral and health outcomes, compared with controls.