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This Week in Health Care Reform: October 13th, 2017

Negotiations continue as lawmakers work to reauthorize CHIP funding; a new study shines a spotlight on the impact of the return of the HIT; and, employers wrap their arms around telehealth.

Week in Review

CHIP Negotiations: The House Energy & Commerce Committee announced earlier this week that it would be delaying sending its marked-up bill reauthorizing funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to the House floor.  The delay stems from ongoing negotiations between members of the Committee as they work to find new funding offsets after those included in the bill came under criticism from Democrats last week, none of whom voted in favor of the measure.  In that hearing, opponents pointed out that the proposed bill would take away money from Medicare and other programs under the Affordable Care Act.  Both sides now hope to find agreement on offsets in order to advance a bill that will be able to garner broad, bipartisan support.  The Senate Finance Committee passed its own bill funding CHIP last week, although, that measure did not map out how it would be paid for.

HIT Study: With the health insurance tax (HIT) scheduled to return in 2018, consumers are being threatened with increased costs and decreased access.  Individuals, working class families, Medicaid managed care beneficiaries, and seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans all find themselves exposed to the harms of this unpopular tax.  A new study seeks to draw attention to just how vulnerable these groups are to the HIT’s impact.  Released by management consulting firm, Oliver Wyman, their analysis projects an average increase to premiums of 2.7 percent over the next three years.  But, as recently covered, a new bill introduced by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) would delay the HIT for another year.

Employers' Telehealth Push: F
aced with the challenge of rising health care costs, employers continue to focus on ways that their employees’ health care is both delivered and paid for.  As such, more are beginning to turn to telehealth as a means of controlling costs, at least according to the latest survey from the National Business Group on Health.  Virtually all respondents (96 percent) indicated that they would be making telehealth services available during their upcoming open enrollment season.  Additionally, more than half (56 percent) said that they planned on offering tele-behavioral health services, as well – more than twice the percentage seen this year.

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