Trending News Today: Uber May Improve Health Care Access

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

Medical providers and hospitals are beginning to use transportation services such as Uber and Lyft for patients with few transportation options, to help make it easier for them to get to and from medical appointments, reported Kaiser Health News. It can be especially challenging for people with chronic conditions who do not have access to private transportation, but still require frequent appointments. Some hospitals and medical providers think that, in certain cases, these ride-hailing services are covered by Medicaid and other insurance plans. Currently, partnerships between these companies and hospitals have been emerging throughout the country and, while the efforts are still small, some hospitals and medical transportation providers think there is large potential for growth, according Kaiser. The patient costs for these services do vary, with Medicaid patients having transportation covered for non-emergency medical visits, but the extent of reimbursement is dependent on state rules.

Aetna is dropping Obamacare insurance in 69% of the counties, and 11 of 15 states where it currently offers plans. According to USA Today, the health insurance giant became the latest to pull back from plans offered under the Affordable Cart Act (ACA) because of significant losses in revenue. A Securities and Exchange Commission filing revealed that the cuts will affect 20% of Aetna’s 838,000 Obamacare participants, who will be forced to sign up for Obamacare plans or purchase individual insurance outside of the exchanges, once open enrollment starts later in the year. Furthermore, patients may lose their preferred physicians and hospitals if they sign up for plans that do not include those providers in their coverage. Experts have forecast that the premium for an average plan is expected to increase by 9% in 2017 to $281 a month. However, most Obamacare members will continue to receive tax credit subsidies to help pay for their insurance.

Leading health care lobbyist, Michael Bromberg, who played an influential role for more than 4 decades behind the scenes of Washington policymaking, passed away at 78-years-old from leukemia. Bromberg was known for being tough, but resolutely pragmatic, reported The Washington Post, who once called him the “dean of Washington health lobbyists.” In 2001, Bromberg founded the lobbying organization, Capitol Health Group, which represented clients such as Humana Inc and Pfizer Inc, and continued working there as a vice chairman at the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) until his death. Through the years, some of Bromberg’s achievements included acting as the Washington face of an increasingly powerful segment of the American health care industry while serving as executive director of the FAH.