What We're Reading: Alaska Has a New Method to Hold Down Insurance Costs

What we're reading, November 23, 2016: Alaska has a novel plan to hold down insurance premiums; MedPAC's executive director discusses continuation of value efforts; and new findings regarding microcephaly in Zika-infected babies.

Alaska is going to pay for the healthcare costs of the 500 sickest patients in the state in order to hold down premiums for the rest of the state’s residents. According to The Wall Street Journal, the sickest patients in the state had contributed to health insurance premiums rising 40% for the entire state. Now, Alaska, which is controlled by a Republican legislature, will contribute $55 million for at least 1 year to cover the costs of those patients.

During a Bloomberg Government discussion, the executive director of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) discussed efforts to bring more value to Medicare. He discussed increasing the adoption of site-neutral payments across Medicare and the expansion of bundled payments in fee-for-service, reported Bloomberg.

The abnormally small heads that became a way of identifying babies affected by the Zika virus may not be a reliable way to determine babies with microcephaly. Data has shown that a small group of babies born in Brazil who were infected with the Zika virus were born with normal sized heads, but developed microcephaly 5 months after being born, according to The Washington Post. Even without microcephaly, the Zika-infected babies had brain abnormalities, such as severe neurological damage.