Payer Roundup—Utah seeks limited Medicaid expansion waiver; Menendez trial could affect ACA repeal effort

If Sen. Robert Menenedez is convicted or takes a plea deal following his trial on corruption charges, Republicans could gain the crucial vote they need to pass legislation that repeals the Affordable Care Act.

Utah seeks narrowly focused Medicaid waiver

Utah has submitted a waiver application seeking a very limited version of Medicaid expansion, which would cover childless adults who are chronically homeless or in need of mental health or drug addiction treatment. The state hopes to have the plan approved by the federal government in time to begin enrolling people by Jan. 1. 

This is Utah’s second attempt to expand coverage for the population in question; its original plan is still awaiting federal approval. The state’s more recent application adds provisions that are more likely to be approved by the Trump administration, such as work requirements for some beneficiaries. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Medica seeks 57% rate hike on ACA exchange plans in Iowa

The lone insurer remaining on Iowa’s Affordable Care Act exchange has requested a 57% rate hike for 2018. Medica says the uncertainty surrounding future funding for cost-sharing reduction payments is the reason behind its steep rate request, which is 13 percentage points higher than what it originally requested in June. (The Hill)

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Menendez corruption trial could tip ACA repeal push in GOP’s favor

The outcome of the corruption trial of Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., could breathe new life into Republicans’ effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If Menendez is convicted, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would be charged with replacing him—and since his is certain to pick a Republican, that could give Senate GOP leaders the one extra vote they need to pass healthcare legislation. (The New York Times)

Highmark inks deal to sell vision care subsidiary

Pittsburgh-based Highmark is selling its subsidiary Davis Vision to New York City-based investment firm Centerbridge Partners for an undisclosed amount. Highmark CEO David Holmberg said the deal will free up capital to allow the company to invest in Allegheny Health Network and other community healthcare providers. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

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