Payer Roundup—House to vote on slew of HSA bills; Bright Health partners with Mercy in Ohio MA market

The House will vote on several HSA proposals this week; one would allow HSA funds to be used for gym memberships. (Getty Images/ohmygouche)

House Republicans lead votes on 3 HSA bills

The House will vote on several bills to expand eligibility for and use of health savings accounts (HSAs) this week.

The votes come after heated debates in the House Ways and Means Committee last week. The bills have largely been championed by Republicans.

Some of the proposals would qualify more services, treatments and over-the-counter drugs for HSA spending; one would even qualify gym memberships. Others would raise the contribution limit, allow account-holders to enroll in a bronze or catastrophic health plan, and allow Medicare enrollees to have an account.

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Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) says the bills “will provide Americans with access to consumer-directed health care while ensuring we keep premiums low.” HSAs can “empower individuals and families,” Brady says, allowing “more choice and financial assistance to help Americans save and plan for their healthcare needs.”

But Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-Mass.) says they “provide America’s wealthiest another option to stash tax-free money at a cost of $92 billion to taxpayers.” (Modern Healthcare)

Bright Health and Mercy Health to offer Medicare Advantage plans throughout Ohio

Startup insurer Bright Health will team up with Mercy Health in its new entry into Ohio's Medicare Advantage (MA) market. Residents of Cincinnati, Springfield, Toledo, and Youngstown will be able to purchase the new plans during this fall’s open enrollment period.

In a press release on Wednesday, Bright Health said the partnership will allow it to provide well-coordinated services and, as a result, “ensure high-quality medical care at lower costs.” Mercy Health echoed this, saying Bright Health “marries convenience and best-in-class care.”

Mercy Health has 20 hospitals and 500 primary and specialty care centers across Ohio. Bright Health currently offers MA plans in Arizona, Alabama and Colorado. (Release)

Physicians conflicted about proposed change to fee schedule

As part of the administration’s broader plan to “cut the red tape of regulation,” the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed largely doing away with the Medicare physician fee schedule. Under the proposal, Medicare would pay physicians the same amount to treat mild, simple conditions as it would to treat advanced, complex ones.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma says this setup will reduce the amount of paperwork doctors need to do, allowing them to spend more time with patients. If Verma is right, doctors will be “elated,” according to those interviewed in The New York Times. However, they said, the proposal could also increase fraud, underpay certain specialists or discourage physicians from seeing Medicare patients.

The proposal is available in the Federal Register for public comment until Aug. 31. (The New York Times)