2025

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March 29, 2024

NBA Player Robert Horry’s Healthcare Adventures Are Proof We Need Affordable Universal Coverage Touching story on NBA great Robert Horry’s healthcare adventures with his daughter, who lived with a genetic disorder and died in her 18th year.  It is a testament to why we need affordable universal access to healthcare.  Horry is now with a company promoting Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRA), which allows businesses to cover portions of healthcare premiums and allows employees to privately procure insurance (usually on the Exchange). To me, it is one of the few positive healthcare developments from the Trump administration. #ichra #obamacare #aca #exchanges Link to Article Huge Bounty On BlackCat Cyberattackers The State Department has issued a reward for information that could find people working with BlackCat, the cyberattacker that got into the Change Healthcare systems. #changehealthcare #cyberattacks Link to Article CVS Health Aiming To Transform Customer Experience Karen Lynch, CEO

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March 28, 2024

Change Cyberattack Could Open Americans Up To Multiple Notifications Of Breach We don’t know yet if Change’s breach will be a record.  But based on the 6 terabyte report of compromise as well as the breadth of the Change system, it very well could be. United is reporting that it may be hard to tell who was impacted by the breach.  Further, because of Change’s tentacles in the market with providers and payers, it could be that people are notified multiple times from different providers and a payer that their data was impacted.  There could be hundreds of millions (even billions) of notifications.  This will cause mass confusion. In other events, United seems to be complaining that some insurers and providers are slow to reconnect to Change systems, which is needed to get the flow of information and claims.  Some complain that they do not know yet if Change is

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March 27, 2024

Improper Payments Huge In Federal Programs A new Government Accountability Office analysis finds that the federal government made nearly $236 billion in improper payments in 2023. The payments were largely in Medicare, Medicaid, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness. Medicare had the largest improper payments at $51.1 billion.  Medicaid had $50.3 billion. GAO Report here: https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-24-106927 #fwa #medicare #medicaid Link to Article New Rule Simplifies Medicaid and Children’s Insurance Enrollment A new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) final rule will help enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage. Among changes include transfer from Medicaid and CHIP if Medicaid is lost, renewals no sooner than every 12 months, no waiting periods, and sufficient time to respond to state inquiries on coverage. Federal press release and fact sheet: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/biden-harris-administration-builds-success-affordable-care-act-streamlining-enrollment-medicaid-and and https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/streamlining-medicaid-childrens-health-insurance-program-and-basic-health-program-application Additional articles: https://www.modernhealthcare.com/government/cms-medicaid-chip-enrollment-renewal-rule and https://insidehealthpolicy.com/daily-news/cms-finalizes-rule-overhauling-medicaid-enrollment-eligibility-processes (Some articles may

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March 26, 2024

The Looming Election Year Debate Over The Affordable Care Act This article captures the big divide between advocates and detractors of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Good links to various studies. Proponents say that over 21 million are enrolled in the Exchanges and a total of about 45 million gained coverage including Medicaid expansion.  Opponents argue costs have been huge — 36,798 per additional private insurance enrollee and 20,739 per additional non-group enrollee.  This is well above original estimates. Further, critics say insurers have benefited disproportionately. Here is my Republican defense of the ACA – as strange as that sounds. I also am dubious of the study that says 3 in 4 (73%) U.S. adults “report that in one way or another the healthcare system is failing to meeting their needs.”  Other surveys would suggest general contentment with their coverage and insurer. #healthcare #healthcarereform #aca #obamacare #exchanges #medicaid  Link to

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March 25, 2024

Biden Signs Funding Bill President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion spending package on Saturday, avoiding a government shutdown. The package includes funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Senate passed the measure 74-24, technically after the deadline. Additional article: https://www.modernhealthcare.com/politics-policy/spending-bill-passes-hhs-funding (Some articles may require a subscription.) #governmentshutdown #spending #healthcare Link to Article Change Ready To Turn On Last Major Products Involving Claims UnitedHealth Group said that its largest clearinghouse, called Relay Exchange, will be back online this weekend.  Further, after testing by clients, $14 billion in medical claims will be processed through a system. It also unveiled a timeline for remaining products to come online – roughly through mid-April. Another article speaks to a new bill that would open up funding during cyberattacks if providers have met certain cyber standards. As well, the American Hospital Association (AHA) is opposing proposals that would tie cyber standards

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March 22, 2024

Senate Has Funding Bill After House Passage The Senate will need to pass a huge funding bill before midnight Friday to avert a government shutdown.  The House passed the bill, which includes healthcare funding, on a vote of  286-to-134 (112 Republicans and 22 Democrats voted against the bill). One conservative House member has called for the ouster of House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-LA, who hails from the Freedom Caucus.  She says she has support from folks, but the caucus and some Democrats do not want to see more chaos. The GOP hold on the House will be razor-thin with two early retirements. #governmentshutdown Link to Article After Win On Prior Authorization, Providers Now To Focus On Denied Claims Medicare Advantage (MA) and other health plans watch out. Providers will now want strict rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Medicaid agencies, and state legislatures regarding claims denials. 

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March 21, 2024

Medicare To Cover GLP-1s For Specific Conditions Medicare Part D will cover obesity drugs if they are approved for specific medical conditions. For example, Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy, just received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce risk of stroke or heart attack in people with cardiovascular disease and who are obese/overweight. The same rule will apply to Medicaid. The decision does not make these weight-loss drugs available more broadly. Additional article on trials showing GLP-1s slowing kidney disease progress and cardiovascular events: https://www.managedhealthcareexecutive.com/view/ozempic-reduces-kidney-disease-progression-cardiovascular-events-by-24- Additional articles: https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/payers/wsj-cms-broadens-part-d-coverage-obesity-drugs and https://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/medicare/109305 #weightlossdrugs #medicare #medicaid Link to Article GOP Senators Want HHS To Explain Delay In Responding To Cyberattack Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy, R-LA, and member Tommy Tuberville, R-AL, have asked why it took the Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) almost two weeks to respond to the Change Healthcare cyberattack. Check out my blog here on

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March 20, 2024

Both Class-Action And Provider Lawsuits Filed Against Change Change healthcare will face both class-action lawsuits from patients as well as lawsuits from providers impacted by the Change Healthcare cyberattack. Meanwhile, provider groups, including the American Hospital association, are arguing the government and UnitedHealth Group responses have been inadequate and are pressing lawmakers to intervene with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The complaint is that advanced payments are simply not enough. Congress is also asking HHS if a bill needs to pass granting the agency flexibility in collecting advanced payments. My blog tomorrow will be a comprehensive review of the Change cyberattack. Additional articles: https://www.modernhealthcare.com/politics-policy/change-update-aha-financial-help-congress and https://insidehealthpolicy.com/daily-news/lawmakers-does-hhs-need-authority-allow-flexible-repayments-after-cyberattack (Some articles may require a subscription.) #changehealthcare #cyberattacks Link to Article Health Equity In MA Star Ratings Could Be Boon For Some, Hurt Others A new health equity bonus formula will come to the Medicare Advantage (MA) star program in a

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March 19, 2024

Elevance Health To Buy Kroger Specialty Pharmacy In an effort to further build out its Carelon service subsidiary, Elevance Health is buying Kroger Specialty Pharmacy.  This will add to its growing PBM offerings. Additional articles: https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/payers/elevance-health-acquire-kroger-specialty-pharmacy and https://www.modernhealthcare.com/finance/elevance-health-carelonrx-kroger-specialty-pharmacy (Some articles may require a subscription.) #kroger #elevancehealth Link to Article ERISA Update RFI Means Battle Lines Drawn A House committee issued a request for information to see how the employer self insurance laws (ERISA) should be updated after 50 years.  Providers of course are asking for major regulation, while employers want to ensure pre-emption of state laws. Abandoning pre-emption would add demonstrably to costs.  ERISA provides the most coverage in America and it should not be played with. #erisa #coverage #employers #providers Link to Article PBM Reform Dead For Now No deal could be reached on pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) reforms despite bipartisan support in each house of Congress.  Reforms will

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March 18, 2024

Progress And Support During Change Healthcare Cyber Attack Some services have been restored by Change Healthcare and more are readying.  Change says that claim preparation software for providers will soon come back online. Electronic payments have come back online. United says it has made more than $2 billion in advanced payments from its program. United as an insurer, Highmark, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association have developed advanced payment programs for providers, but many other insurers are moving slowly on the idea. Other insurers are contracting with Change competitors to help providers file claims. They also are extending claim deadlines. Provider groups say aid is not enough. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also asking states to submit state plan amendments so they can advance Medicaid payments. Additional articles here: https://www.modernhealthcare.com/cybersecurity/change-update-unitedhealth-systems-progress and https://www.modernhealthcare.com/insurance/change-outage-prior-authorization-pay and https://www.modernhealthcare.com/government/change-update-cms-medicaid-reimbursements and https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/change-healthcare-cyberattack-medicaid-flexibilities-american-hospital-association-survey/710561/ (Some articles may require a subscription.) #changehealthcare #cyberattacks Link

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