Feds shut down ‘sham’ health insurance companies

November 12, 2018, Clarion Ledger, Bill Moak, Consumer Watch- Health care has become a big issue for many Americans over the past few years. As the costs of health care continue to rise, families without health insurance are looking for ways to afford those costs. That can make them vulnerable to companies that take their money without providing needed services. This week, the Federal Trade Commission requested that a federal judge shut down a Florida-based operation that it accused of collecting more than $100 million “by preying on Americans in search of health insurance, selling these consumers worthless plans that left tens of thousands of people uninsured.” In a news release, the FTC accused Simple Health Plans of “misleading customers into thinking they were buying comprehensive health insurance” but instead provided little in exchange for the $500-per- month cost. Many customers found themselves holding the bag for thousands in unreimbursed medical costs.

Medicaid expansion gets extra boost from governor races

November 10, 2018, The Hill, Nathaniel Weixel and Jessie Hellmann- Medicaid expansion advocates are looking to capitalize off their midterm victories by potentially adding Kansas and Wisconsin to their list of recent wins. Voters in three deep-red states voted to extend coverage to low-income adults, and those wins could spur expansion efforts next year in Wisconsin and Kansas, where Democratic candidates won governor’s races on Tuesday. “I think the midterms were great news on Medicaid and expansion,” said Patti Boozang, a consultant with Manatt Health. “It’s validation that people really want expansion in their state.” Boozang said lawmakers in non-expansion states are going to be hard-pressed to hold out in the future.

As rural hospitals close, where will older, poorer, sicker patients go for care?

November 9, 2018, The Clarion Ledger, Lynns Evans- Voters in three rural states - Utah, Idaho and Nebraska - approved ballot measures to expand Medicaid last week. Which should be good for their rural hospitals.There have been five hospital closings in Mississippi in the last five years. Four more hospitals were in the news this summer as up for sale or closure: Panola Medical Center in Batesville, Northwest Mississippi Medical Center in Clarksdale, Gilmore Memorial Hospital in Amory, and Magee General Hospital. The first three are threatened by the bankruptcy of Curae Health, their current owner. Mississippi’s rural hospitals are not alone in trying to stay afloat in the face of the massive changes in health care nationwide. In the past 30 years, 800 rural hospitals have closed in the U.S. - almost one in four. In the case of the three Curae hospitals, it that they were making money, just not enough to pay off the loans Curae used to buy the hospitals.

House Democrats weigh joining Obamacare suit

November 8, 2018, Politico, Alice Mirada Ollstein and Adam Cancryn- House Democrats are considering using their new majority to intervene in a lawsuit brought by 20 conservative state attorneys general that could abolish Obamacare.The move would come soon after the next Congress is sworn in and marks an early attempt to make good on campaign pledges to protect the Affordable Care Act, House sources told POLITICO. Bringing up a resolution to intervene in the case also would force an early vote that puts chamber’s Republicans on record about protecting the law and its popular preexisting condition protections.

When Medicaid Expands, More People Vote

November 8, 2018, The New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz- Obamacare didn’t just give more people health insurance. It also caused more people to vote.That’s the conclusion of a new body of evidence that strongly suggests that giving people coverage through expansions of the Medicaid program increases their likelihood of participating in the next election. Medicaid expansions seem to raise both voter registration and voter participation, at least temporarily. On Tuesday, voters in three states approved measures to further expand Medicaid. The election of Democratic governors in three more could also prompt new expansions. Researchers who worked on three recent studies of the effects say it’s likely that those expansions will have a similar effect on voting in the next election cycle.

Nonpartisan agency asks for pause to Arkansas Medicaid work requirements

November 8, 2018, Washington Examiner, Kimberly Leonard- A nonpartisan government agency has asked the Trump administration to pause a Medicaid program in Arkansas that requires certain beneficiaries work or train for work as a condition of keeping their medical coverage. The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, or MACPAC, sent a letter Thursday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar saying it was “highly concerned” that more than 8,400 people had been dropped from Medicaid rolls in Arkansas because of the policy. “The commission calls for a pause in disenrollments in order to make program adjustments to promote awareness, reporting, and compliance,” the group wrote.