Health

Brentwood Based Healthcare Company to Assume Control of Bankrupt Hospital Group

Brentwood-based RCCH Healthcare Partners could take control of recently bankrupt Trios Health facilities in less than a month, reports the Tri-City Herald. The transfer is part of a bankruptcy plan that earmarks $3.95 million for unsecured creditors, with RCCH contributing most of the money. RCCH pledged to employ all Trios employees, saving an estimated 1,000 jobs. You can view the order here.

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Trump Administration Unveils Medicaid Scorecard

The Trump Administration on Monday unveiled its initial version of a “scorecard” that compiles and publicizes data from states for both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), The Washington Post reports. The scorecard will make public government measures of performance such as how long both state and federal health officials take when states request “waivers” to deviate from Medicaid’s ordinary rules and detailed, state-by-state averages on specific demographics and procedures/benefits utilized. The scorecard’s initial information is based on states that voluntarily report a series of measures about the health of their Medicaid and CHIP enrollees. You can view more information on the scorecard here

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Investment Trust to Buy HCR ManorCare Real Estate

Welltower Inc, a real estate investment trust, is purchasing the real estate of recently bankrupt nursing home giant HCR ManorCare for $2.7 billion, Reuters reports. Welltower will team up with non-profit hospital operator, ProMedica, which purchased ManorCare’s operations for $1.3 billion, to create a 30-state health care system. The partnership plans to capitalize on the trend of more health care taking place outside of hospitals.

If the U.S. Bankruptcy Court approves the deal, the merger stands to boost the group into the 25 largest U.S. health systems by revenue alongside names like Mayo Clinic, Geisinger and Johns Hopkins. ManorCare, which was the second-largest U.S. nursing home operator, filed for Chapter 11 protection in March, with $7.1 billion of debt, as part of a prearranged deal to transfer ownership to its landlord Quality Care Properties Inc.

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Gov. Haslam Vetoes Bill on Specialized Cancer Treament

Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed a bill on Thursday that would have required insurance coverage of proton therapy, targeted radiation used for cancers of the brain, lung, breast and neck, for state employees, The Tennessean reports. The bill, SB0367/HB0523, was approved in the House with an 82-13 vote and a 29-1 vote in the Senate. In a statement, Haslam said the legislation "circumvents" the established process for determining employee insurance coverage. After the governor's veto, Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville and Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, who sponsored the bill, called for the legislature to reconvene for a special session to override Haslam's action.
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New Iowa Law Allows Controversial Health Plans

Last week, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) signed into law a bill that allows Iowa Farm Bureau to collaborate with the state’s dominant insurer to sell “health benefit plans,” a strategy that contends that not all health plans are health insurance, reports The Washington Post. The law says such plans “sponsored by a nonprofit agricultural organization… shall be deemed not to be insurance” meaning they will not have to comply with federal requirements. 
 
The law has sparked debate over whether the strategy is a creative path to offer some residents an alternative to increasing prices in the insurance marketplace or a path to substandard coverage that will divide the healthy from the sick. Some feel that this bill is an aftereffect of Congress and the Trump administration’s declaration that Americans who flout the law’s individual insurance mandate will no longer be charged penalties. “If the ACA’s insurance rules can’t be repealed, then an alternative is to get people the option of escaping them,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on major health care issues facing the nation. “Without the penalty, the door is wide open for plans like this.”
 
Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said that he is officially undecided about the new Farm Bureau law but that he sympathizes with the need for more-affordable coverage. As consumers have been “hammered” by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rates, he said, enrollment in Iowa’s marketplace has tumbled from nearly 75,000 in 2016 to about 61,000 last fall to 46,000 last month. According to Ommen, the Farm Bureau modeled its idea after a similar arrangement sponsored by the Tennessee Farm Bureau, which began decades ago and has continued in the ACA era. The Obama administration never challenged it.
 
The Farm Bureau plan is the state’s second attempt to circumvent the ACA. Last year, the state’s insurance commissioner asked federal health officials to allow Iowa to take about $350 million in ACA money for 2018 and use it in different ways to help people pay for plans outside the marketplace. When the government had not given approval as last fall’s ACA enrollment season neared, Iowa withdrew the proposal.
 
In a bill-signing ceremony, the governor contended that Iowa’s individual insurance market had ample choices and “reasonable” premiums before the ACA left it “in collapse.” After urging Congress to “fix this problem,” Reynolds recounted Monday, she said “we are done waiting” and urged state lawmakers to find their own solution. “That is exactly what they did.”
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Congress Delays 'Cadillac Tax' and Other ACA-Related Taxes and Fees

Congress on Monday passed the Federal Register Printing Savings Act, which temporarily continued funding federal government activity and appropriated funds to various health-related programs such as the Children's Health Insurance Program, Medicaid and childhood obesity programs.
 
The Act also addressed the effective date for the controversial 40 percent excise tax on high-cost health care, commonly referred to as the "Cadillac Tax," which has been delayed until 2022. At a minimum, the new two-year delay gives employers and plan sponsors more time to adjust health plan design to avoid the Cadillac Tax, legislation that has been unpopular on both sides of the aisle.
 
The Cadillac tax was created as part of the Affordable Care Act largely to help fund benefits to the uninsured under the law. The U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that delaying the medical device tax will lower revenue by $3.8 billion over a decade, delaying the Cadillac tax will cost $14.8 billion and suspending the health insurance tax will cost $12.7 billion.
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