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What We're Reading: Patients Brace for Irma; ACA Hearing; Insurers Scale Back ACA Participation


Hospitals Prepare for Hurricane Irma

In the Florida Keys, hospitals are evacuating patients in anticipation of Hurricane Irma. The Category 5 hurricane is projected to make landfall in the Florida Keys early Sunday, and 3 hospitals have been discharging patients, according to STAT. There are still approximately 20 inpatients in the hospitals that will need air and ambulance transports to move. After witnessing the destruction of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, the hospitals of the Keys are not taking any chances.

Republicans and Democrats Discuss ACA Fixes

During a Senate hearing on Wednesday, senators and state insurance commissioners discussed proposals to curb premium increases and stabilize the individual insurance markets. AP reported that while disagreements clearly remain, the 2 parties had a cordial discussion and showed a willingness to work together to bolster the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Both sides seem to be in favor of continuing cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, as well as providing money to states to help insurers cover expensive patients. Panel Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, wants to have a bipartisan bill by the end of next week.

More Insurers Scale Back ACA Participation

While the discussions in Washington, DC, were positive, 2 insurers said they were scaling back their participation in the ACA exchanges. Anthem has been slowly reducing its involvement, and it has now announced it will offer ACA plans in just half of Kentucky’s counties in 2018 after covering the whole state in 2017. Reuters reported that the state’s 120 counties will still have ACA insurance options despite the pull back. The same cannot be said in Virginia, which is now at risk of having regions lacking ACA options next year. According to The Wall Street Journal, Optima Health is scaling back its planned expansion, a move that will leave 48 counties and parts of 6 more at risk of having no exchange plan options in 2018.

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