The Weekly Insight – May 22

22nd May 2017

This Week in Review

Last Week from Texas Insight

 

Health Policy News

  • The Congressional Budget Office is preparing to release their report on the American Health Care Act next Wednesday. This updated score will reflect significant changes to the AHCA that passed the House, compared to the initial bill the CBO scored. These differences include the waiver system allowing states to opt out of certain insurance mandates, like requiring coverage of the “ten essential benefits” that the ACA protects, which includes pre-existing conditions. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, has dismissed the possibility of the new CBO score forcing another vote in the House.
  • The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted an analysis of the effect of AHCA’s state waiver program on individuals with pre-existing conditions. They estimate approximately 6 million individuals with pre-existing conditions will be affected by the AHCA.

  • The consulting firm Avalere conducted a study looking into how much funding the AHCA would cost Medicaid with the proposed per capita cap. According to Avalere, the cuts to coverage for non-disabled children would amount to $43 billion over 10 years.

  • The Senate GOP has starting warming up to increasing insurance subsidies for older low-income individuals. A proposal currently being worked on by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) would cut off eligibility to the subsidies sooner, and make the credits larger, while also tying them to income and providing more support to older individuals.

  • This coming Monday, the Trump administration will have to decide whether it will continue to fight a court decision that could undo cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments, a key feature of the Affordable Care Act. If the administration choses to end the payments, it could hasten the end of the health law and throw the healthcare market into a frenzy. Insurers have warned that without the CSR payments, there will be severe premium hikes, and the insurers may leave the marketplace altogether.

  • In Texas late Friday, the Texas House voted 96 to 47 on legislation that bans a commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure, known as dilation and evacuation. The law is similar to those that courts have blocked in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. The law further stipulates that doctors performing the procedure in Texas would face felony charges. The law is expected to pass the State Senate, which is even more conservative than the House.

  • Texas health officials are also looking to restore federal family planning funding that was sacrificed under the Obama administration in an effort to protest against Planned Parenthood. When GOP leaders ousted Planned Parenthood clinics from the now defunct Medicaid Women’s Health Program in 2011, this cut funding amounting to 9$ of federal money for every 1$ the state spent on reproductive health care for the poorest Texas women. Texas Health and Human Services commission is now preparing to submit an application for a state-run, Planned Parenthood-free women’s health program, called Healthy Texas Women, as a means to recoup those federal funds.

  • Texas House voted on Sunday in a last-minute vote to approve the “bathroom bill,” in a 91-50 vote. The bill adds bathroom restrictions for transgender individuals, and mandates that transgender students unwilling to use facilities based on their “biological sex” use single-stall restrooms and facilities at their schools.