What We're Reading: Drug User Fees; Premiums Rising 30% or More; Shoring Up ACA Markets

Senate Focuses on Drug User Fee Bill

The Senate is preparing to go on recess next week, but before it does so, it will vote on the FDA user fee reauthorization bill. According to RAPS, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) called on the Senate to renew the user fee programs and has noted the importance of doing so quickly. The FDA has said it needs those fees reauthorized or it will have to lay off thousands of employees. The House of Representatives passed its version of the bill on July 12.

Some Insurers Eye 30% Premium Increases

Facing uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the cost-sharing reduction payments that the Trump administration has considered not paying, some insurers are seeking high premium increases for 2018 on ACA plans, reported The Wall Street Journal. One insurer in Montana noted that 17 percentage points of its 23% increase are related to the uncertainty. In California, the average premium increase will be 12.5% next year, with 3% reflecting unease over the future. However, Anthem Blue Cross is ending coverage, leaving 10% of enrollees in Covered California to look for new coverage.

More Bipartisan Work to Shore Up the ACA

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is planning a series of hearings with the goal of creating bipartisan legislation to stabilize the ACA’s markets. Politico reported that the hearings will feature health policy experts, patients, and insurance industry representatives. The committee’s ranking Republicans and Democrats have both said they will include senators outside of the committee to help with the work. They will try to come up with solutions to shore up the ACA markets by mid-September.

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