Latest California Healthline Stories
The annual accounting of national health spending is out. And the 2018 health bill for the U.S. was $3.6 trillion, consuming nearly a fifth of the nation’s economy. Meanwhile, Congress is nearing the end of the year without having finished either its annual spending bills or several other high-priority health items. Kimberly Leonard of the Washington Examiner, Joanne Kenen of Politico and Mary Agnes Carey of Kaiser Health News join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss this and more. Also, Rovner interviews KHN’s Markian Hawryluk about the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month.”
A California law, which took effect in July 2017, protects consumers who use an in-network hospital or other facility from surprise bills when cared for by an out-of-network doctor. But physicians say the law has allowed insurers to shrink networks, limiting access to those doctors who have contracted with the patients’ insurance plans.
Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace plans is halfway over and, so far, the number of people signing up is down, but not dramatically. Meanwhile, Congress and President Donald Trump can’t seem to agree on what to do about teen vaping, drug prices or “surprise” medical bills. And Democrats lurch to the left on abortion. Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post, Kimberly Leonard of the Washington Examiner and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss this and more health news.
Texas passed a bipartisan law against surprise medical billing, but advocates warn that a proposed rule could severely weaken it, continuing to allow surprise bills outside of emergencies.
After Tom Saputo underwent double lung transplant surgery in 2018, he was stunned by a surprise bill of more than $11,000 for the 27-mile air ambulance ride to the hospital. State and federal proposals would crack down on extreme air ambulance charges, including a new California law that will limit how much some patients pay for air ambulance rides.
A USC-Brookings analysis finds that the New York plan to resolve disputes between providers and insurers without leaving patients on the hook might actually be driving up costs in the system.
The Democratic presidential candidates have hit hard on health care, but generally the debates have centered on what kind of system candidates propose. The candidates’ ideas on many other issues, such as mental health and gun safety, have attracted much less attention.
The president’s directive, which he said is designed to give beneficiaries more choices in their health care, could lead to higher costs for seniors. Final rules are to be written by the Department of Health and Human Services.
After a test to rule out cancer, Brianna Snitchler faced a $2,170 facility fee for the hospital’s radiology room used that day.
Kaiser Health News gives readers a chance to comment on a recent batch of stories.