Good morning ... Situational awareness: The House is expected to vote today on a government spending bill that includes two years of funding for community health centers. But it’s not clear whether that bill will be able to pass the Senate.
President Trump has been enthusiastically trumpeting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. But there’s a catch: It’s not gone yet. And there’s a second catch: The IRS will be enforcing it during the upcoming tax season in a way it never has before. That’s causing some consternation in the White House, my colleague Caitlin Owens reports this morning.
The issue: Until this year, the IRS accepted your tax returns even if you didn’t fill out the section about whether you had health insurance. About 8 million people left that information blank last year.
Key quote: "There’s a sense within the White House of, 'Why would we penalize Americans for the first time for a policy — a vestige of the Obama era — that we fought tooth and nail to undo. This isn’t our legacy & we shouldn’t own it or make the American people,'" a White House official tells Caitlin.
Insurance companies are leaning hard on Congress to pass new reinsurance funding, hoping lawmakers might even take up such a measure this week as part of yet another short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown.
What they're saying:
How it works: Reinsurance directly compensates insurance companies for some of their most expensive claims, so they don’t have to make up for those costs by raising everyone’s premiums.
The odds: Reinsurance has bipartisan support. Getting it done this week is asking a lot.
Blues officials also told us yesterday that they’re wary of impending rules on short-term health plans — a priority of the Trump administration that could undermine the ACA’s exchanges.
If the new health care organization from Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase is going to make a difference in the broader health care system, it’ll need to do more than embrace technology. It will have to find a way to align payments and outcomes, Avalere president Dan Mendelson writes today for Axios.
The big picture: Mendelson uses the example of Type 1 diabetes, which is best managed with a digital glucose monitor — which, in turn, is most effective if paired with a smartphone to track its readings and help share data with doctors and family members.
The bottom line: Paying for quality is a white whale of health care, but Amazon, Berkshire and JP Morgan might have the clout to catch it — if they want to.
Anthem joined the public-relations parade yesterday when the health insurance company said it was depositing $1,000 into the retirement accounts of 58,000 employees thanks to the new tax law.
Between the lines: As my colleague Bob Herman reports, the one-time $58 million investment is just 1.5% of Anthem’s profits from 2017 — a relative blip on its radar.
Go deeper: The New York Times reports on the temporary bonuses attributed to the corporate tax cuts: “A look at the fine print … shows that some of the largess is not nearly as large as company news releases suggest.”
What we’re watching this week: Two hearings on the opioid crisis — House Ways and Means today; Senate HELP on Wednesday. Oh, and that whole "looming government shutdown" thing.
Health care hivemind, assemble: We’re going to need a new, shorter way to refer to “the health care company formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase.” My opening bid is JP Berkshamazon, but send me your best suggestions: email@example.com.
Also send me your tips. Thanks.