Payer Roundup—UnitedHealthcare leaves Health Care Cost Institute 

UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare will pull out of the Health Care Cost Institute, a research collaborative, plus more insurance headlines. (jetcityimage/Getty)

UnitedHealthcare pulls out of the Health Care Cost Institute 

UnitedHealthcare is leaving the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), a research institute that uses claims data on nearly 50 million insured people. 

UHC is one of four major payers contributing in-house data to the institute. The remaining members—Aetna, Humana and Kaiser Permanente—intend to continue on with the group, according to the announcement. 

HCCI and its research partners will still have access to its full data set, including the UHC claims through 2022. 

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Niall Brennan, the institute’s CEO, said the group is sad to see UHC see go but it's proud of work accomplished so far on research into bending the cost curve. (Announcement

PBMs offer policy suggestions to bring down drug prices 

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), a trade group representing PBMs, has written letters to several congressional committees outlining a slew of policy reforms it says can lower drug costs. 

PCMA says Medicare Part D’s protected drug classes should be eliminated entirely—instead of adjusted as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has planned—and that Part D plan sponsors need “meaningful” access to data on claims in Medicare Part A and Part B. 

The list of about 20 proposals also recommends improved labeling and naming for biosimilars and that Congress should eliminate a tax deduction pharmaceutical companies use to write off direct-to-consumer advertising. 

“PBMs are advocates for consumers in the fight to lower drug costs,” PCMA CEO JC Scott said. (Announcement

Report: Association health plans launched under Trump administration show promise 

A new report found that new association health plans (AHPs)—ones that launched since the Trump administration’s expansion—are opting for broad benefits packages. 

Thirty-four plans have been created since the expansion, and AssocationHealthPlans.com, a resource for consumers interested in such plans, did not find evidence that these AHPs were opting for skimpier benefits. Four in five of these new plans are funded by an insurance company instead of self-funded. 

The group also found that multistate association plans are in the works but have yet to reach the market. 

“As the AHP market matures, we should also expect the number of multistate professional associations to increase,” the report said. “Since they involve more preparation and state filings, they will take a longer period to implement in the market.” (Report

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