What Happened, What You Missed: April 3-7, 2023


Final Rule Prohibits Deceptive Marketing of MA Plans

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans and Medicare prescription drug plans will face tougher requirements on marketing plans, according to a rule finalized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Wednesday.  The final rule is part of an overarching effort by the administration to crack down on deceptive and misleading marketing of MA plans, which have been growing in popularity.  Nearly half of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in MA plans, which are operated by private insurers.  According to the rule, MA plans can no longer run advertisements that use the Medicare name or mention the federal government deceptively. Ads are also prohibited from running without mentioning a specific plan name.  Aside from addressing deceptive marketing, the final rule streamlines prior authorization requirements by requiring prior authorization approval for care to remain valid for as long as “medically necessary” to avoid disruptions in care.

ACA Premiums Up 3.4% Thanks to Inflation, Higher Spending

Affordable Care Act (ACA) premiums rose in 2022-2023 due to inflation and higher health care spending, according to a recent analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).  The higher premiums mark the reversal of a trend towards gradually lower premiums over the past few years.  The analysis notes that inflation will continue to put upward pressure on premiums, particularly due to high labor costs.  Another reason for higher premiums cited in the report was uncertainty over whether the ACA’s enhanced premium tax credits would be extended.  Over 16 million Americans enrolled in marketplace plans in 2023.

NCI Releases National Cancer Action Plan

To help achieve the administration’s goal of “ending cancer as we know it,” the National Cancer Institute (NCI) released its National Cancer Plan on Tuesday.  The plan is centered around eight goals: preventing cancer, detecting cancer early, developing effective treatments, eliminating inequities, delivering optimal care, engaging every person, maximizing data utility, and optimizing the workforce.  According to NCI, the framework is intended to engage all stakeholders involved in treating cancer, including health care providers and researchers.  The Biden administration has notably laid out a goal of reducing the cancer death rate by 50% over the next 25 years.

Gallup: More Americans Concerned about Health Affordability, Drug Use 

A growing number of Americans are concerned about drug use and affordable health care, according to a new Gallup survey.  While inflation and the economy were the top two key issues the respondents were worried about, health care affordability and drug use saw a respective 5% and 8% increase in concern compared to a 2022 poll.  The poll results come amid growing fears over high health care costs and a near-record high in drug overdose deaths.  Gallup conducted the survey in March 2023 and polled over 1,000 US adults.

ICYMI: The Library of Congress Reading Room Will Soon Be Open to Visitors

Currently, only individuals with a photo ID library card are allowed to visit the main reading room of the Library of Congress.  However, starting next Tuesday, the Library of Congress will kick off a new pilot program that will allow visitors to access the ornate reading room during two hour-long periods on Tuesday through Friday.  The main reading room sits below a 160-foot-high dome that’s painted with imagines representing human understanding and intellectual progress.  Additionally, the library is changing its rules to allow non-flash photography in the reading room.  Visitors are still required to reserve timed passes to access the Library of Congress.

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