Governor Hogan Signs Bipartisan Letter
Defending Coverage of Pre-Existing Conditions
Yesterday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan along with three other Republican and five Democratic Governors, issued a statement urging the Justice Department  to reverse its decision to argue in court that the ACA's pre-existing condition protections should be overturned.
"The administration's disappointing decision to no longer defend this provision of federal law threatens health care coverage for many in our states with pre-existing conditions and adds uncertainty and higher costs for Americans who purchase their own health insurance," the governors said.

The elimination of coverage for pre-existing conditions could threaten as many as 133 million Americans with insurance.
Short Term Association Health Plan Rules Announced 

Yesterday, the Trump Administration rolled out its plan to allow states to sell short term health insurance plans through business associations. These plans  would be relatively affordable, but to achieve that, they would offer fewer benefits than ACA plans. Fortunately, the Maryland legislature took steps to ensure these would not be available in our state. But, for other states the effect could be devastating. Besides offering skimpier plans, they could further weaken the insurance market  in many states and drive up ACA premiums even further.  More than 95% of all healthcare groups that commented on the proposed rules, criticized, or outright opposed them, according to an LA Times article back in May.

For example, in February, the consulting firm Avalere, predicted that these plans would increase premiums for those remaining in the individual ACA market by 3.5% and increase small group ACA premiums by approximately 0.5%, compared to current law, and cause 3.2 millions Americans to leave the ACA market by 2022.

  • Republicans Give Up on Medicare Reform - at least they have according to Politico. Thanks to the tax overhaul, the Medicare fund is in its worst shape since the recession, but Trump made a campaign promise not to cut funds, and without Paul Ryan in place after this year to lead the charge to slash entitlements, there isn't much appetite for it.
  • Well, maybe not ALL RepublicansRepublicans on the House Budget Committee released a proposal yesterday that actually calls for steep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, including the premium support system. This is not likely to actually happen because there simply aren't the votes for it in the House, much less the Senate, and is only relevant - for now - to the extent it affects the midterms. And while Medicare may be safe for now...
  • Meanwhile, In Maine - Governor LaPage is still fighting a battle of wills over Medicaid expansion in his state that would provide coverage to 70,000 residents. A judge ordered him to put a plan in place after a state referendum vote passed last fall. The Governor appealed, a judge ordered him to do it anyway, and now it's going to Maine's Supreme Court. Watch this space...
  • And finally, in the topic that's front and center right now, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians and the American Psychiatric Association have all issued statements against the Trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy that is ripping families apart. "To pretend that separated children do not grow up with the shrapnel of this traumatic experience embedded in their minds is to disregard everything we know about child development, the brain, and trauma," reads a separate petition from mental health professionals. Among all the other challenges of this policy, it is a public health issue.
Upcoming Events
  • Thursday, June 28 - Maryland Medicaid Advisory Committee, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM, Maryland Department of Health 201 W. Preston Street, Lobby Conference Room L-3 Baltimore, Maryland 21201
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