Health Policy Updates: June 10 2017

We’re back!

After a couple weeks away for travel, with a LOT that I’ve missed in the interim, here are some of the events and new ideas out over the last week.

First off, the Senate continues to deliberate on health care legislation, with varying degrees of confidence as to whether it will go anywhere. Conservative (though reality-based!) health policy wonks Lanhee Chen and James Capretta have continued to advocate for the incorporation of auto-enrollment into health care reform. This would present a way to “nudge” more healthy people into health insurance – a positive outcome – without the “big-government” personal mandates that Conservatives tend to bristle at.

“Even with the ACA’s penalties for going uninsured, large numbers of Americans are forgoing coverage and either paying additional tax penalties for doing so or applying for an exemption from the law’s individual mandate…If [the AHCA is] enacted, Congressional Budget Office forecasts there would be much lower take-up of insurance under the GOP’s plan than under the ACA…A well-designed automatic enrollment program can help boost enrollment into coverage whatever the design of the overall system.”


A data-driven summary of the ACA’s impacts on individual insurance markets:

“Supporters of the Affordable Care Act hoped the law would spur more competition among insurers across the country. But so far, the law has not delivered on that promise, especially in states that never had much competition, but it didn’t create the lack of choice in those states, according to a Times analysis of insurer participation provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.”


Meanwhile, the Senate is getting closer to its version of ACA repeal. Ominously, it looks a lot like the House version, aka the AHCA.

“The speed and secrecy have pushed GOP senators toward compromise on policy disagreements that once appeared too great to bridge. They are discussing how to end the ACA’s Medicaid expansion over a number of years. They are coalescing around cuts to the entire Medicaid program — the big question being how large those cuts might be.”


I still cannot recommend Vox.com’s The Weeds podcast enough. I tend to prefer the highly edited, TAL- and Gimlet-style podcasts, but for the “several people in a room talking” genre, The Weeds is tops. This week, another human-level story on the ACA exchange marketplaces in Tennessee.

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