Good morning ... Here’s a cool thing: Take a minute and listen to Marvin Gaye’s isolated vocals from “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” As a bonus, you won’t want to listen to anything other than Marvin Gaye for days.
Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its final report yesterday on the Affordable Care Act’s most recent enrollment period, and at first blush, it might look like the Trump administration has barely changed anything. After all, about the same number of people signed up this year (11.8 million) as last year (12.2 million).
But look a little closer, and it’s clear that the ACA is working differently.
The government is paying a lot more.
People chose different plans (sometimes).
The big picture: Expect this trend to continue.
A lot of U.S. drugs are made in China. Photo: Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS via Getty Images
There are a lot of medical products on the Trump administration’s list of candidates for the new 25% tariffs it wants to impose on China. They include:
Why it matters: An enormous amount of the ingredients in American pharmaceuticals are made in China. As those prices rise, the cost of drugs could rise, too — and the impact could be especially dramatic for generic drugs.
Demonstrators at a pro-ACA rally in New York in July. Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
Remember many years ago — sorry, two years ago — when it was the Republicans who were blaming Democrats for ACA rate hikes? This time it’s going to be the Democrats pointing fingers at Republicans in the midterm elections, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Drew Altman writes in today’s column.
What to watch: They’ll point to the series of actions Congress and the Trump administration have taken to undermine the law, including:
The catch: Democrats can score points that way, but another campaign debate about rising premiums could also undermine the ACA by focusing on its continuing problems.
Go deeper: Read the column on Axios.com.
Health insurers that sell Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans receive bonus money from the federal government if they get at least four “stars,” or ratings that measure how well they help their enrollees. One of the measures that dings poor-performing plans is getting the axe next year, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
The details: CMS will kill a star measure called “Beneficiary Access and Performance Problems” in 2019. (Jump to page 127 for you diehards.) That measure essentially lowers a Medicare plan’s star rating if the company received sanctions or paid fines for things like inappropriately denying care or drugs.
The bottom line: Medicare plans that run afoul of these rules won’t lose out on taxpayer-funded bonuses. It’s a boon to industry — one of several in this new regulation.
Another interesting change in this week's big Medicare rules, this one flagged by Kaiser Health News — privately administered Medicare Advantage plans will now be able to cover an expanded set of services.
Key quote: Medicare "is catching up with the rest of the world in terms of its understanding of how we keep people healthy and well and living longer and independently, and those are all positive steps,” Ceci Connolly, the CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, told KHN.
The other side: “It’s great for the people in Medicare Advantage plans, but what about the majority of the people who are in traditional Medicare?" patient advocate David Lipschutz told KHN.
What’s your favorite Marvin Gaye song? Mine’s “What’s Going On,” but I’m open to other arguments: email@example.com.