Trending News Today: Medicaid Expansion Helps Hospitals Stay Open

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently found that the 5-year reauthorization bill for the Children’s Health Insurance Program would only cost $800 million, according to The New York Times. A previous CBO analysis indicated the proposed legislation would cost $8.2 million. The reduced cost projection means that lawmakers may have an easier time passing the bill, but disagreements about funding still exist, according to the Times.

Medicaid expansion has protected numerous hospitals from closing, especially those located in rural areas, NPR reported. A recent study found that hospitals in states that expanded the program were 6 times less likely to close compared with facilities in non-expansion states. The study authors said that more patients visiting the hospitals were insured through Medicaid in expansion states, which increased reimbursement and helped keep them open, according to the article.

President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, will likely dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to Politico. Although efforts have stalled in Congress, Azar may be able to repeal the health law through new rules and by expanding regulatory powers, according to the article. Previously, Azar has criticized ACA repeal efforts from the GOP. If confirmed as secretary, Azar may be able to make progress on this GOP legislative priority, according to the article. At last year’s National Association of Specialty Pharmacy Annual Meeting and Educational Conference, Azar discussed a number of issues surrounding the ACA that he said were entirely predictable and doomed the legislation to failure.