Wednesday April 23, 2014

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Consumer-Driven Health News

Flurry of New ACA Rules Adds to Insurers' Uncertainty

Hundreds of pages of proposed federal rules and guidances for insurers seeking to participate in the state and federal exchanges in 2015 are raising questions among insurance experts about whether they add to the regulatory and market uncertainty surrounding the healthcare reform law. Insurers are worried about potentially tougher federal regulation of plan provider networks under the administration's new guidance, which was issued on March 17.

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Arguments Against Health Law Subsidies Gain Traction

Two of the three federal judges hearing a challenge to the Affordable Care Act on March 25 appeared open to the argument that people buying health insurance in the federal marketplace should not be eligible for tax subsidies, the first indication that the White House could be facing another potentially serious legal challenge to a central part of President Obama’s health care law. The judges’ comments came at a hearing in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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States Fail to Make Health Care Prices Transparent to Consumers

Forty-five of 50 states fail to adequately make price information available to their consumers even as the Affordable Care Act, employers and insurance companies push for greater transparency, according to a new analysis by the nonprofit Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute and Catalyst for Payment Reform. The highest grades were awarded to Maine and Massachusetts, which each received a “B.” No states received an “A.”

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FTC Check-Up on Health Care Trends Reveals New Competitive Wrinkles

The Federal Trade Commission recently hosted a workshop exploring trends and innovation in the health care industry that may affect competition, marking at least 10 years since the antitrust agencies formally examined competition issues in the industry. The two-day workshop examined three broad themes and their impact on competition: (1) the interplay of quality measures and price transparency; (2) professional regulation of health care providers; and (3) innovation and advancements in health care delivery and technology.

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Architect of Health Law Predicts a Shift Away from Employer Coverage

Ezekiel Emanuel, who helped devise the Affordable Care Act, has a vision for how it will eventually work. He expects the law to produce an unadvertised but fundamental shift in where most working Americans get their health insurance — specifically, a sharp drop in the number of employers who offer coverage to their workers. That scale of change would dwarf what took place last fall, when a political firestorm erupted over President Obama’s “if you like your plan you can keep it” pledge.

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