Mar 22, 2019

States looking to cap hospital rates

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Some states are trying to control health care costs by tying hospital payments in their state employee health plans to the amounts Medicare pays, Kaiser Health News reports.

The other side: This is a nightmare scenario for hospitals, which usually charge private insurance plans several times more than they get from Medicare.

Details: Hospitals say Medicare underpays them, and they must charge private patients more to recoup the costs.

  • States experimenting with these measures include North Carolina, Montana, Oregon and potentially, Delaware.

Reality check, from Axios' Caitlin Owens: Hospitals are doing very well financially, although it's also true that many rural hospitals — which have a lot of Medicaid patients — are already struggling.

What they're saying: "Government workers will get it first, then everyone else will see the savings and demand it," Glenn Melnick, a professor at the University of Southern California, told KHN. "This is the camel's nose. It will just grow and grow."

Go deeper: How hospitals protect high prices

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Boris Johnson moved out of ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus

Johnson last December. Photo: Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care but is continuing to be monitored at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

Why it matters: It's a sign of improvement after Johnson spent three nights in intensive care for coronavirus. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab remains in charge of the government.

Go deeperArrow7 mins ago - World

A pause button for debts

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Governments have forcibly put much of the U.S. and the global economy on pause in recent weeks, for very good reason. Factories, offices, sporting arenas, restaurants, airports and myriad other institutions have closed down. But one thing hasn't been paused: monthly debt-service obligations.

The big picture: The less movement and activity there is in an economy, the more the coronavirus curve is flattened. But the obligations in bond and loan contracts can't be paused. That's worrying CEOs who fear a wave of business failures if economic activity doesn't pick up next month.

U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under coronavirus public health order

Photo: Jinitzail Hernández/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The U.S. has expelled more than 6,000 migrants using new powers enabling the federal government to almost immediately turn back border-crossers under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emergency public health order that went into effect March 21, according to new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.

The big picture: The order has drastically lowered the number of immigrants in CBP custody to fewer than 100, the agency's acting commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters on Thursday. The number of people coming into the U.S. overall has plummeted due to coronavirus-related travel bans in place at both the northern and southern borders.