Jun 12, 2017

Iowa asks HHS to help save its ACA exchange

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Iowa — Exhibit A in Republicans' argument that the Affordable Care Act isn't working — is asking the Trump administration for help as it tries to "avoid a total collapse" of its individual insurance market. And its plan has a few things in common with congressional Republicans' health care proposals — namely, a new system of financial help, which would shift away from older consumers, toward younger ones.

Iowa's insurance regulators released a proposal today that they believe would stop insurers from fleeing the state altogether. But they'd need both money and permission from the federal government to implement it.

Here's what Iowa wants to do:

  • Come up with one plan — and one plan only — for insurers to sell next year in the state's ACA exchange.
  • Rework federal funding to coax younger, healthier people into buying that new policy. Instead of receiving the ACA's premium subsidies, Iowans would get a fixed amount of financial help, based on their age and income. And people would be eligible for that assistance even if they'd be too wealthy to qualify for the ACA's existing subsidies.
  • Beef up an existing program, known as reinsurance, that helps compensate insurers for exceptionally expensive patients.

Why it matters: So far, the Department of Health and Human Services under President Trump has shown little interest in helping to make the ACA work, and that's exactly what Iowa is asking it to do here. But the similarities to the GOP's health care proposals, which would similarly restructure the ACA's subsidies, could make this pitch more attractive in Washington.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 932,605 — Total deaths: 46,809 — Total recoveries: 193,177Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 213,372 — Total deaths: 4,757 — Total recoveries: 8,474Map.
  3. Business updates: Very small businesses are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus job crisis.
  4. World update: Spain’s confirmed cases surpassed 100,000, and the nation saw its biggest daily death toll so far. More than 500 people were reported dead within the last 24 hours in the U.K., per Johns Hopkins.
  5. State updates: Florida and Pennsylvania are the latest states to issue stay-at-home orders — Michigan has more than 9,000 confirmed cases, an increase of 1,200 and 78 new deaths in 24 hours.
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World coronavirus updates: Spain's health care system overloaded

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Two planes with protective equipment arrived to restock Spain’s overloaded public health system on Wednesday as confirmed cases surpassed 100,000 and the nation saw its biggest death toll so far, Reuters reports.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 900,000 and the global death toll surpassed 45,000 early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy has reported more than 12,000 deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

FBI sees record number of gun background checks amid coronavirus

Guns on display at a store in Manassas, Va. Photo: Yasin Ozturk / Anadolu Agency via Getty

The FBI processed a record 3.7 million gun background checks in March — more than any month previously reported, according to the agency's latest data.

Driving the news: The spike's timing suggests it may be driven at least in part by the coronavirus.