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Jan. 24, 2019: Bipartisan bill suggests another health insurance tax delay

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Bipartisan bill suggests another health insurance tax delay Health Payer Intelligence
Senators from both sides of the aisle have sponsored a bill that would delay implementation of the ACA's health insurance tax (HIT) once again, this time for two years. The $16 billion tax, designed to be levied on payers, would ultimately increase premiums and further jeopardize the affordability of healthcare, argued sponsors Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Doug Jones (D-AL), John Barrasso (R-WY), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Tim Scott (R-SC). The succinct bill would delay the tax until Dec. 31, 2021, giving stakeholders more time to grapple with how to keep premiums at reasonable levels.

de Blasio directs city agencies to sign people up for health insurance New York Daily News
Mayor de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday, directing all city agencies to sign up eligible New Yorkers for health insurance as part of his effort to boost coverage rates. Hizzoner said city agencies will be tasked with asking people they serve about their insurance status and connecting them to MetroPlus, the city's low- or no-cost public option, if they are not covered. It's part of his plan to provide "universal" healthcare in the city — by getting more people to sign up for the MetroPlus plans already available to them and by connecting undocumented people who can't get insurance to primary care doctors at city hospitals.

Cystic fibrosis patients navigate increasingly complex health insurance quagmire Cystic Fibrosis News Today
Florida resident Megan Willis has cystic fibrosis (CF), and she's not getting better. But that didn't stop authorities last March from deciding otherwise, and denying her access to Medicaid — which for years had been paying her more than $100,000 in annual healthcare expenses. "My health has only gotten worse in the past year," Willis, 22, told CBS News recently. Because Social Security had mistakenly ruled that the young woman's health had improved since the last review of her case, the agency terminated her benefits and she lost Medicaid. And because she lives in Florida — one of 14 states without expanded Medicaid — she had no other way to get it.

Rate of Americans without insurance rises to 4-year high as Trump weakens Obama health law, Gallup survey finds CNBC
The percentage of U.S. adults without health insurance reached a four-year high in the last quarter of 2018, but was still well below the peak level seen before Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act in 2014, a new Gallup survey published recently found. The national uninsured rate climbed to 13.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, its highest level since the first quarter of 2014 when the rate reached 13.4 percent, according to data the compiled from Gallup. Women and adults under the age of 35 reported among the highest rates without insurance at 12.8 percent and 21.6 percent, respectively, the survey found.

Norton Healthcare drops fees for federal workers furloughed in shutdown

Louisville Courier Journal
As federal workers head toward a second payday without a paycheck, Louisville's biggest health system, Norton Healthcare, announced this week it will waive copays and deductibles for furloughed government workers facing emergency medical treatment. The federal shutdown, which is entering its fifth week, has meant 800,000 workers, including hundreds employed at several federal offices in the region, are pinching pennies with no pay flowing to bank accounts. Norton's offer extends to workers visiting 14 of its immediate care centers and emergency rooms at six hospitals, as well as those using online and video visits.

AHA, FAH urge faster progress on interoperability in new report Fierce Healthcare
Seven leading hospital organizations are putting out a call to arms to advance data sharing and interoperability across the healthcare industry. Data sharing improves care coordination, patient safety, family empowerment, efficiency and cost, the groups wrote in the new report released by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH), among others. While health systems have come far with their EHRs in the last decade, those systems are still riddled with barriers to interoperability.

Study: Insulin costs doubled over 5-year period The Hill
Per-person spending on insulin doubled in a recent five-year period, according to a report released recently. Individuals with type 1 diabetes spent an average of $5,705 on insulin in 2016, compared with $2,864 in 2012, according to a study from the Health Care Cost Institute. The dollar amount represents the combined amount paid by a patient and their insurer, and doesn't include discounts given later. The spending jump is largely driven by price increases, the authors wrote, and not because more people are using insulin.

Jeff Sopko