Insurance proposal could shift pay burden on ER visits

January 27, 2019, Daily Journal, Michaela Gibson Morris - A group of emergency physicians is sounding alarms, but Blue Cross says there’s no fire. The state and national chapters of the American College of Emergency Physicians are taking issue with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, saying a proposed policy will decide the severity of medical emergencies after the fact and leave hospitals, doctors and patients on the hook for uncovered expenses. “Health insurance companies can’t expect patients to know which symptoms are life-threatening,” said Dr. Philip Levin, president of the Mississippi chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. At issue is a bulletin sent in December by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi to network providers. The Blue Cross update noted that in 2019, the insurer would be monitoring and evaluating how emergency visits were coded for severity and ensuring they were aligned with the severity of the diagnosis code submitted.

Judge questions Trump administration motives on association health plans

January 24, 2019, Modern Healthcare, Susannah Luthi - The Trump administration’s paper trail of Obamacare criticism could spell trouble for newly expanded association health plans. U.S. District Judge John Bates on Thursday repeatedly challenged the Justice Department’s assertion that the Trump administration’s final rule on association health plans, or AHPs, didn’t aim to reshape the Affordable Care Act exchanges. The judge appeared to take the Trump administration’s intent very seriously as he pondered whether the Department of Labor overstepped its authority in expanding AHPs - the argument at the heart of Democratic state attorneys general’s lawsuit to overturn the final rule. “The case seems to me a dispute between Congress and the administration - an executive dispute with a former Congress,” Bates said near the end of Justice Department’s arguments.

State of State Survey Yields Voter Insight

January 24, 2019, The Northside Sun, Wyatt Emmerich- The latest Millsaps College/Chism Strategies State of the State Survey has some interesting insights into the opinions of Mississippi voters. The poll reveals More than 60 percent of Mississippi voters favor expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Mississippi is one of 14 states that has not expanded Medicaid, foregoing a billion dollars a year in federal money. Twenty-nine percent oppose the expansion.

Trump Zeroes In On Surprise Medical Bills In White House Chat With Patients, Experts

January 23, 2019, KHN, Emmarie Huetteman- President Donald Trump on Wednesday instructed administration officials to investigate how to prevent surprise medical bills, broadening his focus on drug prices to include other issues of price transparency in health care. Flanked by patients and other guests invited to the White House to share their stories of unexpected and outrageous bills, Trump tasked his health secretary, Alex Azar, and labor secretary, Alex Acosta, with working on a solution, several attendees said. “The pricing is hurting patients, and we’ve stopped a lot of it, but we’re going to stop all of it,” Trump said during a roundtable discussion when reporters were briefly allowed into the otherwise closed-door meeting.

Rural Hospitals in Greater Jeopardy in Non-Medicaid Expansion States

January 22, 2019, PEW, Michael Ollove- In crime novelist Agatha Christie’s biggest hit, “And Then There Were None,” guests at an island mansion die suspicious deaths one after another. So you can forgive Jeff Lyle, a big fan of Christie’s, for comparing the 36-bed community hospital he runs in Marlin, Texas, to one of those unfortunate guests. In December, two nearby hospitals, one almost 40 miles away, the other 60 miles away, closed their doors for good. The closings were the latest in a trend that has seen 21 rural hospitals across Texas shuttered in the past six years, leaving 160 still operating. Lyle, who is CEO, can’t help wondering whether his Falls Community Hospital will be next.“Most assuredly,” he replied when asked whether he could envision his central Texas hospital going under. “We’re not using our reserves yet, but I can see them from here.“It’s not just Texas: Nearly a hundred rural hospitals in the United States have closed since 2010, according to the Center for Health Services Research at UNC Chapel Hill. Another 600-plus rural hospitals are at risk of closing, according to an oft-cited 2016 report by iVantage Health Analytics.

Tobacco makes $400 million impact on Mississippi Medicaid

January 20, 2019, Daily Journal, Michaela Gibson Morris- An in-depth analysis of Mississippi Medicaid claims estimates tobacco use costs the program nearly $400 million a year. Based on the detailed estimates, Mississippi’s share of the tobacco-attributed health care costs is around $90 million; federal allocations cover 77 percent of Medicaid costs. “It’s really a very conservative estimate,” said Therese Hanna, executive director of the nonpartisan, independent Center for Mississippi Health Policy, which commissioned the report. Researchers at the Hilltop Institute of University of Maryland-Baltimore County reviewed Mississippi Medicaid claims from 2016 and 2017 to develop a more accurate picture of what tobacco-attributed conditions costs Medicaid.