CBO releases analysis predicting significant impact of suspending cost-sharing reduction payments

At the agencies

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report that anticipates a 20 percent increase in benchmark plan premiums next year, 25 percent by 2020 and would add an additional $194 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade. The CBO emphasized the importance of timing on the CSR funding decisions, noting that continued uncertainty will have increasing harm on the individual insurance market.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a new website to allow healthcare providers and caregivers to compare hospice facilities. The website is designed to provide insight into the quality of care provided at hospice facilities by drawing from quality reporting programs from hospices. 

Additionally, CMS announced proposed changes to the Episode Payment Models (EPMs), Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) incentive payment model and Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) model. The proposed rule cancels the EPMs and the CR incentive payment model and rescinds related regulations. This proposed rule also proposes to prospectively make participation voluntary for all eligible hospitals in approximately half of the geographic areas selected for participation in the CJR model and for low volume and rural hospitals in all of the geographic areas selected for participation in the CJR model. Several technical refinements and clarifications for certain CJR model payment, reconciliation and quality provisions are also included in the proposed rule.

From the administration

The Trump administration will make August’s cost-sharing reduction payment, subsidizing insurers who continue to offer certain plans on the health insurance exchanges. While the continuation of cost-sharing reduction payments is an immediate benefit to insurers who rely on those payments, these month-to-month determinations by the Trump administration prolong uncertainty as insurers try to finalize 2018 health plan offerings. The administration has not committed to making the September payment.

Additionally, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. With this designation, the president could access federal disaster funds to send money to states or have the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) establish agreements to buy anti-overdose drugs and supplies at a discount. President Trump has vowed to dedicate time, effort and money to address the opioid epidemic but has not yet provided further detail.

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