House committee proposes ban on surprise medical bills

May 14, 2019, Modern Healthcare, Susannah Luthi - Leaders of a U.S. House of Representatives committee on Tuesday unveiled draft legislation to ban surprise medical bills through a cap on on any out-of-network charges. Notably, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s bipartisan proposal doesn’t opt for arbitration to resolve pay disputes between hospitals, physicians and insurers - the approach hospitals and specialty physicians favor. Instead, insurers would pay out-of-network clinicians based on what they’d pay similar physicians in their networks. Additionally, hospitals would have to get written permission from patients before letting an out-of-network physician treat them for a scheduled procedure.

Dem House chairman, top Republican release measure to end surprise medical bills

May 14, 2019, The Hill, Peter Sullivan -  The Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday released a discussion draft of a measure to protect patients from getting massive, unexpected medical bills, a sign of bipartisan momentum on the issue. The release from Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) comes after President Trumpcalled for action on the issue last week. “Today we circulated a draft bill for review that we believe strongly protects patients and families from surprise medical bills,” Pallone and Walden said in a joint statement. “We must ensure that patients are not responsible for these outrageous bills, which is why our discussion draft removes patients from the middle.” The measure protects patients from getting massive bills when they get emergency care from a doctor who is outside of their insurance network, with the idea being that, in an emergency, patients should not be expected to ask doctors giving them care whether they are in-network or not.

State wants to use Mississippians’ personal data to tackle poverty. What does the data already show?

May 14, 2019, Mississippi Today, Anna Wolfe -  In their first meeting in more than two years, officials from multiple state agencies tasked with overseeing the operations of a statewide data system containing millions of pieces of Mississippians’ personal data appointed a new chairman who promises to spell out the state’s intentions for data use - specifically how it will be used to tackle poverty.  “We now have an opportunity to generationally move families to self-sufficiency and livable wages, whatever that means, and success the way they define it, not the way I define it,” said Mississippi Department of Human Services’ Director John Davis, the new chair of the Statewide Longitudinal Data System board.  In its fifth year in operation, the longitudinal data system already has data to show that folks largely remain in poverty when they leave welfare programs. Data retrieved by Mississippi Today also shows that the state’s poverty rate was at a decade-high 24.2 percent when the state began dramatically reducing the number of people receiving public assistance in 2012 under Gov. Phil Bryant’s administration.

Hospitals retool Medicaid expansion, hope public outcry presses Gov. Bryant to action

May 13, 2019, Mississippi Today, Larrison Campbell - With Gov. Phil Bryant and hospitals locked in an impasse over Medicaid expansion, a group of Mississippi hospitals is hoping the public will rally behind a new plan to expand Medicaid access in Mississippi. Tim Moore, the chief executive officer of the Mississippi Hospital Association, announced the plan, called Mississippi Cares, before a crowd of hospital administrators on Monday. Moore said state leaders are out of touch with Mississippians, a majority of whom support Medicaid expansion, he added. “If you look across the state of Mississippi, and you look at the support that’s in this room, that it’s time to move forward with (expansion),” Moore said. “I think our administration, our leadership, needs to understand there’s a lot of support in Mississippi to move forward with a plan like this.” Since the launch of the Affordable Care Act in late 2013, 37 states have opted to expand Medicaid access to adults who earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Many fall into what’s called “the coverage gap,” meaning they earn too much to qualify for federal Medicaid and too little to qualify for a subsidy under the health care law. Despite qualifying for a 90 percent federal match rate, the the highest in the country, Mississippi has not yet expanded Medicaid.

Medicaid Reform: Hospitals propose plan to broaden access

May 13, 2019, WJTV, Liz Carroll - The Mississippi Hospital Association says uninsured patients who are unable to pay for emergency care are putting stress on hospitals, some of which have closed, because of a lack of payment. And that’s just one fact. MHA says a proposal for Medicaid reform will be a public-private partnership and will not cost the taxpayers a cent. The plan will be owned by the hospitals with patients paying $20 or less per month for an individual making $17,000 annually or $35,000 annually for a family of four. Association CEO Tim Moore says he met with Governor Phil Bryant and the Medicaid Director late last year about the proposal, but it went nowhere. Now, he says it’s time. “Well you know we feel like if you look across the state of Mississippi and you look at the support that’s in this room that it’s time to move forward with it - I think probably our administration our leadership needs to understand there’s a lot of support in Mississippi to move forward with a plan like this.” According to the group, since 2015 E.R. visits went up 155 percent for Medicaid patients and the cost has risen by nearly 50 percent.

Health industry to clash over surprise medical bills

May 11, 2019, The Hill, Nathaniel Weixel - Three powerful players in the health care industry are gearing up for battle over surprise medical bills. Doctors, hospitals and insurers have all pledged to protect patients from being hit with massive, unexpected bills for out-of-network care, but no one wants to take on the added costs that come with it. That reluctance is setting the stage for a fight, with the insurance industry on one side and hospitals and doctors on the other. The conflict could make it difficult for lawmakers to come up with a plan that doesn’t disappoint at least one major sector of the health industry. There is currently no legislation on Capitol Hill to tackle this issue.