Overnight Health Care: Blue Cross Blue Shield sees 'urgent' need to stabilize ObamaCare markets | Trump official calls Medicaid work requirements 'true compassion' | British PM defends universal health system after Trump attacks

Overnight Health Care: Blue Cross Blue Shield sees 'urgent' need to stabilize ObamaCare markets | Trump official calls Medicaid work requirements 'true compassion' | British PM defends universal health system after Trump attacks
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Blue Cross Blue Shield sees 'urgent' need to stabilize ObamaCare markets

A leading health insurance group said Monday there is an "urgent" need for Congress to act to stabilize ObamaCare markets after the repeal of the individual mandate in December.

"There's an urgent need to stabilize the market," Justine Handelman, a senior vice president at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, told reporters at a briefing.

She said the most important action Congress could take is to provide funding for what is known as reinsurance, which helps cover the costs of especially sick patients, thereby bringing down premiums.


The group pointed in particular to a bill from Rep. Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloBottom Line Trump struggles to stay on script, frustrating GOP again Bottom line MORE (R-Pa.) in the House to provide reinsurance funding, as well as funding for other ObamaCare payments known as cost-sharing reductions (CSRs).

Momentum has been building in Congress for a stabilization measure, which could be included as part of a long-term government funding deal in the coming weeks. Conservatives object to the idea as a "bailout" of insurers, but many Republicans, including leadership in both chambers, has expressed interest in the idea.

Read more here


Trump official defends Medicaid work requirements as 'true compassion'

A top Trump administration official says Medicaid work requirements are a form of "true compassion" that aim to help poor people overcome poverty.

"True compassion is lifting Americans most in need out of difficult circumstances," Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma said in a Washington Post column.

"This administration stands for a policy that makes Medicaid a path out of poverty by empowering states to tailor programs that meet the unique needs of their citizens," Verma wrote.

On Friday, Indiana became just the second state in the 53-year history of the Medicaid program to gain federal approval to institute work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries.

Democrats and health advocates believe work requirements are a deliberate barrier to care. They argue that many Medicaid beneficiaries are already working, and forcing them to jump through bureaucratic hoops just to get health coverage is not compassion.

Read more here.


Over 100 House Republicans call for health center funding

More than 100 House Republicans are calling on Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan calls for Trump to accept results: 'The election is over' Bottom line Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition MORE (R-Wis.) to quickly reauthorize a pot of money crucial to community health centers, which serve millions of the nation's most vulnerable.

In a letter sent Friday, 105 Republicans, led by Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikDemocrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? Governors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Cuomo reverses on in-person Thanksgiving plans with family MORE (R-N.Y.), expressed concern over the fact that long-term funding for community health centers lapsed Sept. 30. They urged reauthorization in the "next moving piece of legislation to be signed into law."

Lawmakers are racing to pass another short-term spending bill this week. Community health center advocates are anxiously awaiting word on whether it will include a reauthorization of federal funding for the centers.

Read more here.


Trump on Dems' 'universal' health-care push: 'No thanks'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE on Monday said "no thanks" to any push from Democrats for a "universal" health care system in the United States.

"The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working," the president wrote on Twitter.

"Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!"

Thousands of people marched in London over the weekend to protest funding cuts to health services, according to reports.

Read more here.


Trump's comment that Britain's National Health Service (NHS) was "not working" sparked pushback from figures across the U.K.'s political spectrum...


Theresa May defends universal health system after Trump attacks

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday defended her country's National Health Service following comments from President Trump.

"The prime minister is proud of our NHS, that is free at the point of delivery," a spokesman for May told The Washington Post.

The spokesman noted that funding for the universal health-care system is at a "record high" and was prioritized in the budget with an extra 2.8 billion pounds.

Trump early Monday morning tweeted that "thousands of people are marching in the UK because their [universal] system is going broke and not working."

Read more here.


The head of the U.K. Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, also hit back at Trump, tweeting: "Wrong. People were marching because we love our NHS and hate what the Tories are doing to it."

"NHS may have challenges but I'm proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage -- where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance," said British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Also piling on, British tabloid the Daily Mirror and commentator Piers Morgan, who called the U.S. health system "a sick joke & the envy of no-one."


Pro-ObamaCare group launches ad against Idaho rollback

The pro-ObamaCare group Save my Care is launching a TV ad against the Republican governor of Idaho after he moved to roll back ObamaCare rules.

"Gov. Butch Otter is putting the interests of his insurance industry contributors ahead of the people of Idaho," the ad states.

"He's trying to overturn the law of the land so he can take Idaho back to the old days when insurance companies could deny care, cap coverage and charge people more just for being older or having a pre-existing condition," it continues.

Otter signed an executive order last month designed to allow cheaper plans that don't meet all of ObamaCare's requirements to be sold. Idaho officials say they need to encourage healthy people to enroll in plans to stabilize their market.

Read more here.


Poll: Majority of voters say lowering drug prices should be priority for Congress

More than 80 percent of voters think lowering drug prices should be a priority for Congress, according to a new poll released Monday.

The poll, completed by GS Strategy Group, shows 85.5 percent of registered voters surveyed think lowering the cost of prescription drugs should be a "top priority" or an "important priority" for Congress.

Only 9.6 percent said lowering drug prices is not "too important of a priority" while 2.1 percent of those surveyed said it should not be done.

The poll also showed the majority of registered voters think Congress and President Trump need to do more to lower the cost of drugs.

About 75 percent said they need to do more, while 9.6 percent said they've done enough.

Read more here.


Government watchdog finds safety gaps in assisted living homes

More than half of all states lack adequate federal reporting about assisted living facilities, meaning serious health and safety problems go unnoticed by federal authorities, according to a new bipartisan report from a government watchdog.

The Government Accountability Office report found that 26 states could not report the number of "critical incidents" -- physical assaults, sexual abuse, unexplained death, unauthorized use of restraints, medication errors and inappropriate discharges or evictions -- occurring in assisted living facilities in their state.

Assisted living facilities increasingly receive federal Medicaid dollars but are not subject to the same federal rules as nursing homes.

Read more here


What we're reading

Public health workers find surprise cuts in paychecks (Politico)

Congress has quietly created a new health care crisis for 26 million Americans (Vox)

U.S. pays billions for 'assisted living' but what does it get? (The New York Times)


State by state

Medicaid plans: We're not 'hyperventilating' about Medicaid work requirements (The Washington Post)

California to drug users: We'll pay for you to test your dope (Kaiser Health News)

Legal clash over Medicaid premiums could derail GOP rollback of expansion (Modern Healthcare)


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