ACA insurers posted good results for 2017 after hiking premiums 25%; Virginia inches closer to approving Medicaid expansion as budget talks near; an AIDS researcher is said to be the top candidate to lead the CDC.
Insurers in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual marketplace just had their best year in 3 years after increasing premiums by more than 25% on average last year, Politico reported. Politico analyzed financial filings for 29 regional Blue Cross Blue Shield plans and found that many insurers charged enough to cover their customers’ medical costs for the first time since the ACA marketplaces began with 10 essential health benefits. However, one good year won’t help the companies cope with the nerves they feel as they plan for 2019 amid continued uncertainty. The Trump administration ended the law’s individual mandate and a subsidy program worth billions of dollars to insurers and is expected to finalize rules making it easier to buy cheaper plans exempt from some ACA rules.
The Virginia state legislature is closer to approving a Medicaid expansion this year, and the issue will be the sticking point as the legislature goes into a special budget session April 11 to create a plan to avoid a government shutdown on June 30, Kaiser Health News reported. More than a dozen Republicans are on board in the House of Delegates, but the Senate is uncertain, even if the bill includes work requirements. However, one political analyst said that Republican State Senator Emmett Hanger, who has a record of voting independently, could convince others to switch positions.
An AIDS researcher is the top candidate to head the CDC, The Washington Post and other news outlets reported. Robert Redfield, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is well respected for his clinical work but once took controversial positions on mandatory HIV testing. His name had been floated during past Republican administrations for the top positions at the CDC and National Institutes of Health. The CDC director’s job has been vacant since January 31, when Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, resigned. A former Army physician, Redfield is director of clinical care and research at the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland medical school in Baltimore. He has no apparent experience running a governmental public health agency.