Healthcare Roundup—Oscar Health planning to grow its ACA footprint; Abortion rights groups sue Virginia

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Oscar Health is planning to expand its ACA exchange reach for 2019. (Pixabay)

Oscar Health plans to expand its ACA offerings for 2019

Oscar Health announced that it intended to launch its plans in three more states and expand its offerings in three others for 2019.

The insurer plans to jump into the Affordable Care Act exchanges in Arizona, Florida and Michigan, and is also looking to expand its markets in Ohio, Texas and Tennessee. Oscar turned a first-quarter profit for the first time this year, and revealed in May that it intended to continue to expand as a result.

"Our sustained expansion positions Oscar as one of the fastest-growing insurers in the country and speaks to the power and effectiveness of our unique playbook," the company said. (FierceHealthPayer)

Abortion rights groups sue Virginia

A coalition of several abortion rights groups has filed a lawsuit against Virginia this week, calling on the courts to throw out a number of regulations and restrictions on the procedure.

Restrictions such as a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion and a state-mandated ultrasound before the procedure are not medically necessary, and thus unconstitutional because of the Supreme Court's 2016 Whole Women's Health vs. Hellerstedt ruling. The court determined that abortion restrictions are unconstitutional when the access burdens outweigh the benefits to patients.

"Despite these clear constitutional protections, and the proven safety of abortion care, the Commonwealth of Virginia has spent over four decades enacting layer upon layer of unnecessary and onerous abortion statutes and regulations," the groups said in the lawsuit.

"These interlocking restrictions subject abortion providers and their patients to a vast array of requirements that fail to provide benefits sufficient to outweigh their burdens." (Lawsuit [PDF])

House passes opioid bill

A House bill that seeks to better align patient privacy protections with HIPAA rules passed the House by a wide margin on Wednesday.

The chamber voted 357-57 to pass the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., would allow for the disclosure of records for patients with substance use disorder, as long as the disclosure complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's rules.

Current law allows disclosure of records without consent only to medical personnel if there's an emergency, for research purposes or under a court order.

"Doctors must have the whole picture on a patient's medical history in order to safety and effectively treat the patient," Mullin said. "This includes any history of substance use disorder." (Announcement)