Payer Roundup—Senators reintroduce Medicare-X plan for public option

Both the AH&LA and AAHOA released statements in support of the President’s call for bipartisan efforts to improve border security and ongoing job growth.
Senators Michael Bennet and Tim Kaine have reintroduced a revised version of Medicare-X, plus more news from around the web. (Getty Images/Bill Chizek)

Sens. Bennet, Kaine, reintroduce Medicare-X

Senators Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, and Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, have reintroduced legislation for Medicare-X, another low-cost health insurance option that aims to lower premiums and increase coverage for all. 

The Medicare-X Choice Act of 2019 would start in rural areas because, according to Bennet, “the market there is failing too many Americans.” He added in a statement: “There is no excuse for us not to finish what the ACA started and close the coverage gap in America through Medicare-X.” 

Starting in communities in Colorado and Virginia, the plan would expand to the entire country by 2024. And by 2025, the plan would be added to the Small Business Health Options Program Marketplace. (Announcement)


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Walgreens hit by lower prices, reimbursement cuts in Q2

Walgreens has cut its forecast for 2019 after announcing it missed second-quarter expectations. One of the biggest challenges the drugstore faced was reimbursement cuts and lower price increases for branded drugs.

The company said it now anticipates growth will be flat this year after announcing in December that growth would be between 7% and 12%.  

Like other drugstores, Walgreens is facing pressure to cut prescription costs, and generic drugs are not as profitable as they used to be. (Associated Press)

Retirees looking at $285,000 in healthcare costs

The average 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need $285,000 to fund healthcare costs, not including long-term care, dental or premiums paid for Medicare. 

According to a recent Fidelity study, the increase in expected retirement costs has gone up 3.6%—a welcome slowdown from the 12% increase between 2015 and 2017—as out-of-pocket Medicare costs have leveled off. 

Of the estimated costs, about 40% accounts for premiums from Medicare, such as Part B or Part D, and does not include surcharges for higher-income people. Another 40% of that cost goes toward deductibles and co-pays, while the remaining 20% is for prescription drugs. (Barron’s)

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