Weekly Insight – May 1
This Week in Review
Last Week from Texas Insight
- The Texas Public Behavioral Health Care System: We review how the behavioral healthcare system works in Texas, and the main challenges it faces.
- Texas House and Senate Joint Committee: Health and Human Services Transition Legislative Oversight Committee: The Transition Legislative Oversight Committee met on Monday, April 24, 2017 at 8:30am to hear invited testimony only. The meeting was convened by Chair Four Price. A quorum was present. The purpose of the meeting is to receive an update on the transition.
- Conference Committee for SB1: Organizational Meeting: The Conference Committee met for an organizational meeting. This was the first meeting of the Committee which entertained only invited testimony.
- House Committee on Insurance: Selected Legislation (HB307 and HB1161): The Committee on Insurance met to consider pending business and numerous bills.
Healthcare Policy News
- On “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Trump said that the ACA replacement bill “guarantees” coverage of pre-existing conditions. This is in stark contrast to the existing legislature that the GOP is pushing – which allows states to make their own decisions on “essential health benefits,” including pre-existing conditions. Trump suggested in his interview that the health care legislation is “changing.
- Currently, the proposed bill allows states to waive three of the biggest Obamacare rules. States could make their own decisions whether to uphold the essential benefits, the “community rating” which protects those with pre-existing conditions from paying more than healthy consumers, and the “age rating” which lowers premiums for older American. If all three measures are dropped, states will have to reinstate high risk pools. This still leaves up to 24 million Americans without health insurance.
- If the bill is “changing,” those changes need to happen quickly, as the White House has signaled that they expect a vote on the healthcare bill sometime this week. Gary Cohn, White House economic adviser, said on CBS “This Morning” that he thinks they have enough votes to pass the healthcare proposal. And while the vote may come this week, the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t had enough time to score the added amendment that will allow states to apply for waivers of some Obamacare regulations — which could result in further coverage losses for Americans.
- While the GOP continues working to repeal and replace, insurers grow increasingly worried about losing federal subsidies. Molina Healthcare threatened on Thursday to leave if federal payments to insurers are not funded. Molina’s exit would cost 650K to 700K people their insurance coverage this year, and without Molina Healthcare’s participation in the exchanges next year – up to 1 million people could lose coverage. Trump has refused to make a decision on these subsidies until he knows what will happen with the replacement bill.
- A federal appeals court on Friday affirmed a lower court’s decision to block a merger of Anthem and Cigna. The court ruled that the merger would have “unacceptably reduced competition in the market.”
- Trump said on Friday that he will appoint Charmaine Yoest, one of the country’s most prominent anti-abortion rights activists, as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).