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Experts offer plan to fix ACA markets; insurer to exit group health biz


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Experts offer plan to fix ACA markets; insurer to exit group health biz

A bipartisan group of health policy experts, comprising advisers to former Republican and Democratic presidents, said it is pitching to lawmakers a proposal aimed at stabilizing the Affordable Care Act marketplace, The Wall Street Journal reported. Among other things, the plan recommends formally authorizing the ACA's cost-sharing reduction payments, ensuring funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, expanding the use of health savings accounts, and broadening the ACA's state innovation waivers, according to the report.

Certain ACA navigator organizations are concerned that President Donald Trump's administration may decide to discontinue their funding, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2016 announced $63 million in grants to these entities that assist people in enrolling for health insurance through the ACA. The grants are set to run through September 2018, but the year-to-year funding is subject to the performance of the navigators.

Federated Insurance is exiting the group health insurance market in 2018 due to the uncertainty surrounding the future of the ACA, the Star Tribune reported, citing a statement from the Owatonna, Minn.-based insurer. Federated sells group coverage to more than 600 employers in Minnesota.

President Trump in a tweet criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for failing to advance a healthcare reform bill through the chamber, The Wall Street Journal reported. Trump's reaction came after McConnell at a recent Kentucky event said the president had set "artificial deadlines" and had "excessive expectations."

The U.S. Department of Labor is looking to delay the full rollout of its Conflict of Interest Rule, commonly known as the fiduciary rule, to July 1, 2019, from Jan. 1, 2018, according to a brief filed as part of a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

In deal news, AEGON NV agreed to sell AEGON Ireland plc to AGER Bermuda Holding Ltd., the holding company of the European operations of Athene Holding Ltd.

Heritage Insurance Holdings Inc. plans to offer $125 million of convertible senior notes due 2037 in a private offering to qualified institutional buyers. Net proceeds from the sale are expected to be used to buy back up to $40 million of the company's common stock and to fund the cash portion of the pending NBIC Holdings Inc. acquisition.

In earnings updates, MetLife Inc. now expects third-quarter realized net investment losses of about $1.4 billion, net of income tax, related to the Brighthouse Financial Inc spinoff. The company initially anticipated third-quarter realized net investment losses of about $900 million, net of income tax, related to the separation.

Kingstone Cos. Inc. is expected to report earnings today. Click here to read a summary of earnings reported Aug. 9 by select insurance companies covered by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

A group of U.S. senators wrote to Wells Fargo & Co. CEO Timothy Sloan and National General Holdings Corp. CEO Barry Karfunkel, questioning them about the improper charging of insurance premiums to the bank's auto loan customers.

Continuing the trend of increased frequency in recent years, insured losses in the U.S. in the first half rose about 10% compared to the first half of 2016 and exceeded $15 billion, according to a report from Verisk Analytics' Property Claim Services.

The Texas House gave final approval to House Bill 214, a bill that would ban insurers from including general abortion coverage in private health plans, state-offered insurance and insurance acquired through the Affordable Care Act, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The bill now heads to the Senate, which recently approved a similar legislation.

Radian Group Inc.'s board has renewed the company's share repurchase program.

And Allstate Insurance Co. plans to invest more than $22 million in North Carolina's Charlotte area and will create 2,250 new jobs by 2020, The Associated Press reported.

Featured news

ICER may make room for CAR-T; Softbank bets big: In an upcoming review of experimental CAR-T therapies from Novartis AG and Kite Pharma Inc., U.S. price watchdog the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review will for the first time consider whether there are "low-value services" that can be cut to make way for innovative, yet potentially high-priced options such as the new class of gene-modifying cancer drugs.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: SEC delays Chicago Stock Exchange sale nod; AMP's H1 net profit declines 15%

Europe: Zurich's Q2 net income up 21%; AEGON swings to Q2 profit; KBC's Q2 profit rises

Middle East & Africa: Qatar-linked banks face Abu Dhabi boycott; Nigerian court junks case vs. banks

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 1.13% to 27,444.00, while the Nikkei 225 was down 0.05% to 19,729.74.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 1.15% to 7,411.83, and the Euronext 100 fell 0.43% to 999.12.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the PPI-FD report, the EIA Natural Gas report, the Treasury budget report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.