Friday News Dump: Wonkbites

by Adrianna McIntyre 

  1. A new study calls fears of rate hikes “overblown.” The nonprofit, nonpartisan Rand Corporation released a report this week on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on premiums. Among other things, the study found that premiums for small businesses (defined here as less than 100 employees) will see premiums 6% lower than they would be without the ACA. Important caveat: that’s overall, and will vary by company and employee.
  2. A “broccoli mandate” might have lowered osteoarthritis. Recent research out of England suggests that sulforuphane, something that occurs naturally in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, might prevent or delay the cartilage destruction of arthritis. (Note that this is not me endorsing a broccoli mandate—friends can attest that I’m hardly a fan of the vegetable.)
  3. The Michigan Senate finally voted on—and passed—a Medicaid expansion bill. The state House passed legislation several months ago, but the Senate put off a vote until after the summer recess. After some brief procedural shenanigans and a last-minute amendment, the bill was approved Tuesday night. The House must concur with the amendments and then receive Governor Snyder’s long-promised signature. After that, my home state will still require a waiver from HHS to proceed, which could face complications.
  4. Fixes for the “unbanked.” One implementation concern that is less politically-fraught—and commensurately less discussed—is that many low-income individuals don’t have checking accounts, which could complicate premium payments (insurers might prefer direct bank transfers). The Obama administration announced Wednesday that exchange plans will be required to accept prepaid debit cards, cashier’s checks, and money orders, in addition to paper checks and direct transfers.
  5. Why drink caffeine when you can just absorb it? I can hardly criticize caffeine-junkies without being a pot, kettle, or both. I’m not sure I’m interested in trading my morning coffee ritual for “Sprayable Energy, though: you spray it directly on your skin, where it’s absorbed into your system. The FDA doesn’t regulate caffeinated products yet—there’s been recent discussion changing that—but this seems similar to caffeine “patches” that have been on the market for a while, without major incident.

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Adrianna is a graduate student in public policy and public health at the University of Michigan.
Follow her on Twitter at @onceuponA or subscribe to the blog.

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