July 5, 2019
July 5, 2019
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA-6) last week introduced the Public Health Funding Restoration Act, which reaffirms the need for prevention and public health programs and restores funding to the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF).
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the PPHF was created to provide critical funding for vaccination programs, chronic disease prevention programs and health education programs.
When it was established, the PPHF was allocated $2 billion to support these important services, but the fund has been significantly depleted through budget cuts and negotiations to offset costs for other programs. The Public Health Funding Restoration Act would reaffirm the need for public health programming and would restore the PPHF to its initial funding level of $2 billion and maintain that funding indefinitely.
Senator Blumenthal and Congresswoman Matsui will now be looking for co-sponsors to help support their bills. We urge you to join us in supporting them by asking your member to protect the PPHF!
A new study from Harvard, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined the impact of Arkansas’ work requirements for Medicaid coverage after the first year of implementation. The program, the first of its kind in the nation, was approved by the Trump administration last year amidst backlash from patients and advocates. Researchers found the plan ultimately backfired, with thousands of people losing coverage and no significant evidence of job growth in the target population—those ages 30 to 49.
In total, 18,000 Medicaid participants were dropped from the program in the first year. While health officials claim that many of those people may have found jobs, the data collected from Harvard shows employment dropped from 42% to 39%, and the uninsured rate increased from 10.5% to 14.5%. These figures reveal the Medicaid work requirements were ineffective.
When asked what factors contributed to coverage losses, researchers said lack of awareness around the work requirements and confusion on how to report their job searches were most common. It is unclear if Arkansas will make any changes to its Medicaid work requirements as a result of the study. In the meantime, eight other states have received approval for similar programs, with an additional six pending approval.
Last week, President Trump issued an executive order aiming to increase transparency in the health care system. It directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to require hospitals to disclose service prices to patients in an “easy-to-read” format. HHS will also need to require both hospitals and insurers to disclose information about out-of-pocket costs to patients before they make any decisions about care.
“Prices will come down by numbers you won’t even believe,” Trump said. “More transparency will mean more competition, and the cost of health care will go way, way down.”
HHS Secretary Alex Azar touted the order as “one of the most significant steps in the long history of American health care reform.”
However, the move has been criticized by both providers and insurers. Matt Eyles, the president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), says prices will actually increase. “Publicly disclosing competitively negotiated, proprietary rates will reduce competition and push prices higher—not lower—for consumers, patients and taxpayers,” he said.
The American Federation of Hospitals and the American Hospital Association echoed these concerns, saying that neither hospitals nor insurers want to be paid the lowest rates, and would raise their rates to match what other facilities in the area are being paid.
The executive order is the first step in initiating this process. Next, HHS will draft the rules for its agencies, which will then be open for public review and comments. We will keep you informed of any developments as they occur.
The Prevent Cancer Foundation® would like to wish you and your family a happy and healthy Independence Day and weekend!
Please don’t forget to stay hydrated and wear plenty of sunscreen to Stop Cancer Before It Starts!®