OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: Medicare insolvency date pushed back

A new report found the finances of Medicare improving slightly, but still headed toward bankruptcy.

The Hill’s Bernie Becker reports: “Social Security and Medicare are marching steadily toward bankruptcy though not quite as speedily as before, according to a report released Monday by the trustees for the two entitlement programs.

“Medicare will avoid insolvency until 2030, the program's trustees said, a longer projected life span fueled by drops in healthcare spending.

“The latest projections push the life of the Medicare trust fund back four years later than a year ago.

“But the trustees for both Medicare and Social Security also continue to paint a dire long-term picture for programs that will come under more strain when it faces a flood of retirees in the coming years.”

Read more here: http://bit.ly/1AqhJCY.


House GOP expands lab safety probe: The Hill’s Ben Goad reports: “Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are expanding their investigation of a series of apparent safety lapses involving anthrax, small pox and bird flu at federal laboratories.

“Citing an ‘insufficient culture of safety,’ the lawmakers sent letters Monday to leaders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Health and Human Services Inspector General demanding information about the scares and related protocols.

“These recent safety lapses raise a number of questions and concerns regarding how federal agencies are responding to these incidents, what actions have been taken in the past, and does Congress need to intervene,” said committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), chairman of the panel’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

Read more here: http://bit.ly/1tjbSx8.


GOP accuses top WH advisor of collusion: White House adviser Valerie Jarrett “colluded” to help an insurance company that threatened to raise its premiums under ObamaCare, according to Republicans on the House Oversight Committee.

According to the report, Care First Blue Cross Blue Shield underpriced its insurance plans on the ObamaCare exchanges for 2014 with the expectation that the losses would be covered by the “risk corridors” program, which Republicans have decried as a "bailout" of the insurance industry.

When the White House last spring assured that the risk corridors program would be budget neutral — meaning provided at no cost to taxpayers — the CEO of Care First Blue Cross Blue Shield Chet Burrell contacted the White House to warn that his company might be forced to raise premium as much as 20 percent, according to the report.

Jarrett sprang into action and told Burrell the White House was looking into options to help insurers.

Republicans have assailed the risk corridors as a “bailout” of the insurance industry, since the government could be on the hook for payments to insurers if the funding pooled in the “risk corridors” proves insufficient.

Read more here: http://bit.ly/1o7tdkP.


Rule would give seasonal government workers health benefits: Seasonal and temporary government workers could be eligible for federal health benefits based on a new rule proposed by the Office of Personnel Management.

The administration is set to publish a proposed rule Tuesday to let seasonal and temporary workers sign up for the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program.

Such workers aren’t eligible for the benefits now until they work at the government for one year.

The change would allow workers to get the benefits immediately, even if they are working temporary or seasonal jobs.

Read more here: http://bit.ly/X5VdQA


State by state:

Former MO healthcare provider gets 51 months for fraud: http://on.ksdk.com/1rLvkSV

Minnesota Health officials address Ebola concerns: http://bit.ly/WKpmoG

US attorneys in Dakotas turn up heat on healthcare fraud: http://bit.ly/1pmTEXG

Kansas City, Kan., abortion clinic closed: http://bit.ly/1nTsXub

Official looks north for Kansas insurance roadmap: http://bit.ly/1l82iW3


Reading list:

The medical bills that hit retirees hardest: http://on.mktw.net/WK2kOw

Drug combos prove potent as HCV therapy: http://bit.ly/1tjycH9


What you might have missed at The Hill:

NY Times: Legalize pot: http://bit.ly/1rTWLIM

O-Care architect provides fodder for court challenges: http://bit.ly/UybbkN