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Freedom Caucus seeks to force ACA repeal vote; Anthem exits Virginia marketplace

The House Freedom Caucus has launched an effort to force a vote on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but not replace it for two years. The group of conservative lawmakers filed a discharge petition to force a vote on the measure that was adopted by both chambers in 2015 but was subsequently vetoed by then-President Barack Obama.

The federal administration is extending the deadline for health insurers to file their rate hike requests by nearly three weeks, The New York Times reported.

Anthem Inc. is withdrawing from the Virginia individual ACA exchange market in 2018 and will only offer off-exchange plans in Washington and Scott counties, as well as in the city of Bristol next year.

In Hawaii, University Health Alliance plans to raise ACA rates by an average 8.9% for individual members and 6.5% to 15.3% for small-business members in 2018, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. The Hawaii Medical Assurance Association is reportedly seeking a 1.7% rate hike and UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co. is seeking a 16% increase for small-business members.

Health insurers that have retreated from the ACA exchanges are looking toward the rising number of seniors and Medicare Advantage for growth. Valerie Monet, the author of a recent J.D. Power & Associates report, said the disparity between the projected increase in the number of Americans aged 65 and older in the next two decades, and the proportion of people in this age group that have been introduced to a Medicare Advantage plan presents an opportunity for insurers to step in and pitch their Medicare Advantage offerings,

Montana Health Cooperative, one of the four surviving consumer operated and oriented health plans formed under the ACA, is all set to resume enrolling new members on the state's ACA exchange after a nine-month long enrollment break, The Associated Press reported, citing CEO Jerome Dworak. The health co-op had suspended new enrollment in the state since December 2016 over insolvency concerns. But the insurer feels confident about its financial health now and is reportedly expecting $28 million in profits.

A provision in the ACA that will temporarily increase federal coverage of Children's Health Insurance Program payments will go into effect starting Oct. 1, Congresswoman Aumua Amata said in a press release. This increase will affect all five insular territories.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services reduced the number of insurers participating in the state's Medicaid managed care program to six from 12 as part of Gov. Bruce Rauner's plans to revamp the program, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing the department's director, Felicia Norwood. BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, Harmony Health Plan Inc., IlliniCare Health Plan Inc., Meridian Health Plan of Illinois Inc., Molina Healthcare Inc. and CountyCare Health Plan have been selected to participate in the program for the next four years.

The Texas Senate gave final approval to a bill that would ban insurers from including general abortion coverage in private health plans, state-offered insurance and insurance acquired through the ACA, the Associated Press reported. The bill now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign it into law, according to the report.

In deal updates, Heritage Insurance Holdings Inc. will retain its current intermediary Aon Benfield to place its entire combined reinsurance following the acquisition of Narragansett Bay Insurance Co., The Insurance Insider reported, citing Heritage Chairman and CEO Bruce Lucas. Guy Carpenter is reportedly the lead broker on Narragansett Bay's current placement.

Soon after announcing Athene Holding Ltd.'s first pension buyout transaction, Chairman and CEO Jim Belardi said there is "no deal too big" for the company in that space.

Several European and Canadian insurers who entered the U.S. market through acquisitions more than a decade ago have spun off or sold those businesses with varying results, and two other global insurers may be joining that list, notes an S&P Global Market Intelligence report.

In earnings news, NI Holdings Inc. reported second-quarter net income attributable to the company of $100,000, or 1 cent per share, compared with a net loss of $1.8 million in the same quarter last year

National Security Group Inc. saw net income fall in the second quarter to a net loss of $999,000, or a loss of 39 cents per share, down from net income of $1.3 million, or 52 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

MBIA Inc. CEO Joseph Brown four years ago gave himself a four-year timetable to retire from the company, so the company's recent announcement that he would cede the post to COO William Fallon should have come as no surprise, BTIG analyst Mark Palmer said in a research note to clients. The CEO change, rather than capping a comeback, would be a good move for executing a runoff or overseeing a sale, Palmer suggested.

Missouri Care Inc. notified 1,223 members of Missouri's Medicaid program, MO HealthNet, that some of their personal information was mailed to an incorrect address by one of its subcontractors, O'Neil Printing.

Featured news

Conservatives seek ACA repeal-only bill; Amazon's healthcare maneuvers: Ophthotech Corp. said the phase 3 clinical trial evaluating Fovista, added to Eylea or Avastin, to treat wet age-related macular degeneration failed to meet its prespecified primary endpoint of mean change in visual acuity at 12 months.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Mitsubishi UFJ Financial expands Saudi Arabia ops; Bank of Baroda profit slips

Europe: L&G circles Pru annuity biz; Monte dei Paschi posts loss; Talanx raises guidance

Middle East & Africa: Kenya's incumbent president wins new term; Old Mutual unit names CFO

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 1.36% to 27250.23. The Nikkei 225 was down 0.98% to 19,537.10.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.62% to 7,354.97, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.80% to 994.03.

On the macro front

There are no notable reports due out today.