Sen. Lamar Alexander is among the senators hashing out a deal to extend the Obamacare tax credits through 2016 even if the Supreme Court strikes down the law, so as not to leave "millions of Americans in the lurch."
A bill that would block the state from setting up an insurance exchange is nothing more than a political statement by Sen. Brian Kelsey, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said Thursday.
“I don’t think that bill’s needed. Once again, sometimes you have overkill,” Ramsey told reporters. “The basic premise of that, if the Supreme Court rules this way or the Supreme Court rules that way and if ‘that’ happens we’re going to do ‘that’ — that’s not the way you pass legislation,” Ramsey said.
Senate Bill 72 is built around a lawsuit now before the U.S. Supreme Court, King v. Burwell, that challenges whether the Internal Revenue Service can write rules to extend subsidies to people who buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchanges. Should the court find the IRS cannot write rules, Kelsey’s bill prohibits Tennessee from operating its own exchange and blocks the state from putting money for an exchange in the state’s budget.
“That’s more a political statement than it is good government,” said Ramsey.
Ramsey said he has faith Gov. Bill Haslam would come to the legislature first should he want to install a state exchange. An estimated 229,000 people in Tennessee selected health care plans on the federal exchange, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, posing a “big problem” if the federal exchange can’t be used and there’s no state exchange to turn to, Ramsey said.
“I just told him where I was. He rolled it for three weeks after that. That might tell you something,” Ramsey laughed.
Kelsey rolled the bill in the Commerce and Labor Committee Tuesday until March 10, saying he is waiting to meet with the administration about the legislation.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced a new investment initiative last week geared toward improving the technology infrastructure in rural Accountable Care Organizations.
The ACO Investment Model, a new effort included under CMS' umbrella of ACO initiatives, provides financial support to eligible ACOs for infrastructure improvements in health information technology.
According to CMS, the model was developed in response to concerns that providers lack the capital to invest in the infrastructure necessary to adequately track and manage patient populations. Accepted ACOs will receive an upfront investment as well as monthly payments based on the size of the program and the number of covered patients.
Notably, the program will target physician-based organizations serving rural areas. Eligible ACOs cannot include a hospital as a participant, unless it is a critical access hospital, nor can the ACO be owned or operated by a health plan.
For more on the program, click here.
Hospital operators are expected to see continued earnings growth this year and in 2015 thanks to the Affordable Care Act, said Deutsche Bank analyst Darren Lehrich. In a report, Lehrich raised his price target on the top five hospital companies, including the three locals.
Lehrich boosted his target for Community Health Systems the most — to $75 from $63 — while lifting his HCA Holdings target to $82 from $72, noting the two companies might benefit most from Medicaid expansion. He also lifted his LifePoint Hospitals price target to $85 from $78.
Separately, Leerink Partners initiated coverage on HCA and CHS with 'outperform' ratings. Analysts there set a 12-month price target for HCA of $85, which is higher than consensus estimates, due to the company's lower bad debt and higher utilization.
Shares of all three companies were down about half a percent Friday morning. LifePoint (Ticker: LPNT) was trading at $74.22 and is up 40 percent year to date. Shares of CHS (Ticker: CYH) were $56.82 and up 17 percent this year. HCA (Ticker: HCA) was trading at $71.85, and its shares have climbed most at 50 percent year to date.
Insurers in Tennessee will refund $10 million to a pool of more than 300,000 consumers through an Affordable Care Act requirement this month.
The Medical Loss Ratio rule requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on patient care and quality. "If insurers spend an excessive amount on profits and red tape, they owe a refund back to consumers," Sylvia Burwell, Health and Human Services secretary, said in a release.
According to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Tennesseans in the refund pool will receive an average of $53 per family. Tennessee had the 14th-highest total refund figure, but the seventh-lowest refund per family. Rebates are required to be provided by Aug. 1.
For the refund data per state, click here.
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS