Aug 15, 2017

Wellmark under fire for discriminating against hemophilia patients

Seth Wenig / AP

Hemophilia groups filed a civil rights complaint Tuesday against health insurer Wellmark for preventing patients with the disorder from accessing coverage under the Affordable Care Act to avoid paying the expensive medical bills, per Washington Examiner.

The complaint, filed by the National Hemophilia Foundation, the Hemophilia Federation of America and Hemophilia of Iowa, claims that Wellmark discriminated against patients with hemophilia — which keeps blood from clotting, and can require expensive infusions of protein — first by limiting coverage to only certain counties in Iowa, and later by stating it was pulling out of the Iowa marketplace altogether in 2018.

Why it matters: The groups argue that Wellmark's actions could open the door for other insurance agencies to dodge paying for pre-existing illnesses.

Wellmark's defense: The agency has pointed to one patient with hemophilia, whose care reportedly costs $1 million a month, to highlight the problems facing the Iowa individual health insurance market. Wellmark has also stated that it would consider re-entering Iowa's ACA exchange if the state approves the agency's proposal for a federally-funded reinsurance program, which would help manage the steep medical costs.

Big picture: The case shows the underlying struggle health insurers face to fulfill the ACA's goal of covering sick people instead of separating them out into high-risk pools. Looking ahead, insurers will likely pressure Congress for changes to help them absorb the costs of expensive patients more easily.

Go deeper: Axios' David Nather covered Iowa's $12 million patient in a June version of his Vitals newsletter.

Go deeper

American carnage

Protesters race up a hill to avoid tear gas in Philadelphia, June 1. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The list of victims has swiftly grown since George Floyd died in police custody just eight days ago.

The big picture: Protests against police brutality have turned into a showcase of police brutality, with tear gas and rubber bullets deployed against crowds. The police have the arsenals at their disposal, but we're also seeing law enforcement officers becoming targets.

McConnell blocks resolution condemning Trump's actions against peaceful protesters

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked a resolution introduced by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday that would have condemned the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters outside the White House on Monday in order to allow President Trump to walk to St. John's Church.

What they're saying: "Justice for black Americans in the face of unjust violence, and peace for our country in the face of looting, riots, and domestic terror. Those are the two issues Americans want addressed," McConnell said on the Senate floor.

George W. Bush breaks silence on George Floyd

Goerge Bush in Michigan in 2009. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush (R) wrote in a statement Tuesday that he and his wife, Laura, are "anguished" by the death of George Floyd, and said that "it is time for America to examine our tragic failures."

Why it matters: It's a stark juxtaposition when compared to fellow Republican President Trump's response to current civil unrest. While Trump has called for justice in Floyd's death, he's also condemned protestors and threatened to deploy military personnel if demonstrations continue.