Senate Passes Ill-Fated ACA Repeal Bill
The Senate voted 52 to 47 to repeal several central pillars of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including tax credits for purchasing qualified health plans, Medicaid expansion, and penalties for noncompliance with the individual and employer mandates—a bill that President Obama has already indicated awaits his veto. The bill also eliminates tax measures intended to fund the ACA, such as the "Cadillac tax" on high-cost employer sponsored plans. While the House has voted to repeal the ACA more than fifty times, this is the first time the Senate has passed an ACA repeal bill.
National Health Spending Increases 5.3% in 2014, Per Person Spending Increases 4.5%
Healthcare spending in the United States increased 5.3% to $3 trillion in 2014, driven by increased spending on private employer and individual health insurance, spending on Medicaid, and rapid growth in prescription drug costs, according to the National Health Expenditures Accounts study published in Health Affairs. Spending per capita increased at a similar rate—4.5%—to $9,523 in 2014. Health costs increased faster in 2014 than the previous five years due primarily to the Affordable Care Act's private insurance and Medicaid coverage programs, which saw 4.4% and 11% spending increases, respectively, from 2013 to 2014 as the number of covered lives under both programs increased.
Rhode Island: Innovation Work Group Submits Report to the Governor, Recommends Establishing Health Policy Office
Governor Gina Raimondo's (D) Working Group for Healthcare Innovation presented its recommendations to improve the State's healthcare system while controlling costs in a report that calls for the establishment of an Office of Health Policy, which would set, implement, and coordinate a single, comprehensive statewide health policy plan. The Working Group also encouraged system-wide accountability and transparency through a nonbinding spending target for insurers and providers—rather than a spending cap—though the target would be secondary to the main goal of increasing transparency and accountability for cost and quality. Rather than enforce a spending target, the Office of Health Policy would aim to understand how and why healthcare costs are increasing. The Hospital Association of Rhode Island also opposed setting a target, explaining that its members may not be prepared to meet a spending target and citing a possible risk to economic growth and innovation. Other recommendations are to expand analytic capabilities, create alternative payment models, establish statewide health goals, and expand use of improved health information technology.