Updates on ACA Individual Mandate

A new version of the House Republican tax bill does not include a repeal of the ACA individual mandate. The president has been a proponent of repealing the mandate as a way to dismantle the ACA and help pay for cuts in taxes, but a second tax bill amendment released Thursday by House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady also does not include a repeal. In the meantime, enrollment on HealthCare.gov has reached a total of over 600,000 people in the last four days – with a total of 464,140 coverage renewals and 137,322 new enrollees – according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. While the reported numbers suggest that enrollment has almost doubled from last year’s figures, there is no certainty that the enrollment pace will continue.

New Guidelines Lower Definition of High Blood Pressure

In “To Your Health,” the Washington Post (11/13, Bernstein, Cha) reports, “Acting for the first time in 14 years, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other groups redefined high blood pressure as a reading of 130 over 80, down from 140 over 90.” This “change means that 46 percent of US adults, many of them under the age of 45, now will be considered hypertensive.” The Post points out that “under the previous guideline, 32 percent of US adults had” hypertension.

On its front page, the New York Times (11/14, A1, Kolata, Subscription Publication) reports that “under the guidelines…the number of men under age 45 with a diagnosis of high blood pressure will triple, and the prevalence among women under age 45 will double.”

Bloomberg News (11/13, Cortez) reports that the update “is based on a three-year review of almost 1,000 studies.”

USA Today (11/13, Painter) reports that “the guidelines, presented at a heart association meeting and published in…the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, also spell out exactly how health care providers and people at home should check blood pressure.” For instance, physicians “and nurses are urged to let patients rest five minutes first and then to average at least two readings over two visits.” Meanwhile, “patients are urged to take regular readings at home, with a device checked out by their health care providers.”