Retirement insights from a Colorado PERA perspective

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A digest of health care information about cost savings, public policy, and staying healthy in retirement.

Polis announces U.S. reinsurance plan approval aimed at lower Colorado premiums | Colorado Politics

The federal government has approved a Colorado reinsurance plan designed to lower premiums for individuals buying insurance on the state health care exchange, Gov. Jared Polis announced on July 31. Premiums next year for 400,000 Coloradans – about 8 percent of those buying insurance on the exchange – will drop by more than 18 percent with a reinsurance plan in place, officials estimate. The largest decreases in premium costs are expected for rural Coloradans who participate in the state’s health benefit exchange program, Connect for Health Colorado, according to projections released by the Governor. The program will begin with 2020 coverage plans.

Note
that the PERACare program will not be impacted, as the reinsurance program only
affects people buying their own insurance on the individual market. But PERA
retirees under age 65 could take advantage of the lower individual premiums, if
eligible.

House backs repeal of Obamacare’s unpopular ‘Cadillac tax’ in rare bipartisan vote | CNBC

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on July 17 to pass a bill that would scrap Obamacare’s so-called Cadillac tax, an inactive provision of the health law meant to help control health-care spending. The tax, set to go into effect in 2022, is unpopular with both Republicans and Democrats, who say it punishes the middle class. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., who introduced the bill earlier this year and has spent years trying to repeal the provision in the health law, has said the tax would put workers and their families’ health coverage at risk. Were the Cadillac tax to go into effect, it would impact PERACare enrollees and, likely, employees of PERA employers.

Azar unveils plan to import prescription
drugs
| Modern Healthcare

The Trump Administration on
July 31 unveiled two new plans that could allow Americans to pay cheaper prices
for expensive drugs, including insulin. Health and Human Services (HHS) and the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will move forward with two regulatory
proposals that are priorities for President Donald Trump. The first would
authorize pilot programs by states, wholesalers, or pharmacists to import
Canadian versions of certain FDA-approved drugs. The other would give
drugmakers a way to start negotiating new distribution contracts in order to
sell their lower-priced foreign versions of a wide swath of drugs. These would
include biologics like insulin and arthritis medications.

The latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, explained| Vox

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is being challenged in the courts yet again — and a Fifth Circuit decision could help determine whether that fight winds up going any further. On July 9, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case of Texas v. Azar, a suit brought by 18 state attorneys general — and endorsed by President Donald Trump’s Administration. The hearing comes in the wake of a 2018 decision by District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, who determined that the ACA is unconstitutional now that Congress has rolled back the penalty requiring everyone who did not carry health insurance to pay a fine. Legal experts on both sides of the aisle have argued that O’Connor’s reasoning was faulty and likely to be overturned by the Fifth Circuit. Questions from two of the three judges hearing the case, however, indicated that they, too, were interested in gauging the constitutionality of the law as it stands.

Judge Blocks Trump Rule Requiring Drug Companies to List Prices in TV Ads|The New York Times

A federal judge ruled on July 8 that the Trump Administration cannot force pharmaceutical companies to disclose the list price of their drugs in television ads, dealing a blow to one of the President’s most visible efforts to pressure drug companies to lower their prices. Judge Amit P. Mehta, of the United States District Court in the District of Columbia, ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services exceeded its regulatory authority by seeking to require all drugmakers to include in their television commercials the list price of any drug that costs more than $35 a month.

Trump administration pushes U.S. at-home kidney care, transplant availabilityReuters

The Trump administration on July 10 set goals to move more kidney disease treatment into patients’ homes and increase transplants while reducing the U.S. reliance on more costly dialysis clinics. President Donald Trump signed an executive order underscoring these goals, and the U.S. health agency said it would test new payment structures, including one that rewards end-stage renal disease facilities and doctors who meet targets in these areas. The U.S. government spends $114 billion each year to treat chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease.

Comments

  1. Mary says:

    Why can’t PERACare lower it’s premiums for retirees younger that age 65, so we don’t have to shop around?

    • Colorado PERA says:

      Thank you for your question, Mary. The PERACare team works hard to offer a variety of health care options, but even as large as the PERA retiree group is, we are subject to the nationwide trends in health care and prescription drug costs.

  2. Melinda Green says:

    I want to weigh in on some comments made during the recent Town Hall about investments by PERA. The top priority should be making sure PERA gets the maximum return on investments to ensure our retirement is not threatened. Those who wish to make a political statement by which investments are purchased should be feel free to do that in their personal investments, such as 401K or IRAs. Please do not give in to those whose opinions may not be shared by all PERA retirees. Bottom line: we want a secure retirement. Thanks.

  3. Mark Hardy says:

    Hmmm, sounds fishy. “8 percent of those buying insurance on the exchange – will drop by more than 18 percent with a reinsurance plan in place, officials estimate”. Talk about cherry picking the data… What happens to the premiums for the other 92%. What do their premiums do? This sounds like another give away of other people’s money to benefit a few, con job from our Governor. Rather than stating the best percentage premium decrease for a few, why don’t they tell us how much the premium increases for the average person? “Reinsurance” makes it sound like they are inserting a middleman to save money by rejecting claims. I’m not buying that this is a great magical thing. Nobody in the healthcare industry is working for less than they got last year, nor should they. The past few years, I’ve looked into the Connect for Health Colorado plans and they are a LOT more than 18% higher than the PERACare plan I bought. And, the State plans apply the full plan deductible to prescriptions before they start paying anything. What a rip-off, even if you are getting it for “free” it’s still a big worthless government run rip-off.

  4. Leigh Wilson says:

    Although I am in favor of saving money, this article sounds political to me. Use of words like “unpopular” indicate an editorial. Please just inform us and give succinct factual information.

    • Colorado PERA says:

      Dear Ms. Wilson,

      The Health Care Headlines feature (like the Retirement Roundup) is a collection of stories we’ve gathered from articles appearing in the national media. If there are opinions expressed in these articles, they should be attributed to the original author and/or publication.

  5. Kim Lukens says:

    I would like to know why the PERA Subsidy for retirees hasn’t increased in over 30 years since health care has increased? I also want to know why I can’t take my $230 subsidy to a private insurance, especially since I won’t qualify for a Federal Subsidy if Igo outside of PERA to purchase health insurance?

    • PERA on the Issues says:

      The dollar amount of the health care subsidy and the provision that the subsidy can only be paid for persons enrolled in the PERACare health care program are both set forth in state statute. We recognize the impact increasing health insurance premiums have on our retirees, but any changes to the premium subsidy would have to be passed by the General Assembly. Please don’t hesitate to contact PERA directly if you have any additional questions about the PERACare plans.

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