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Congress focuses on averting a shutdown, Trump pushes health care vote
Lawmakers are working toward a deal before government funding expires on Friday. The Trump administration wants to use the deadline as a point of leverage with Democrats, proposing to trade CSR subsidies in exchange for funding the border wall – giving $1 toward CSR payments for every $1 toward wall payments. Senator Chuck Schumer has called provisions for the wall a nonstarter. Meanwhile, House GOP leaders said they’re closer to a deal to repeal and replace Obamacare while the White House pushes for progress on a vote, even though it appears unlikely this week.
Trump proposes state-line policy
Trump’s health care reform plan allows insurers to sell plans across state lines, a policy he says will promote competition, lower costs and increase enrollment. However, experts dispute this idea and don’t think it will make a difference. The ability to sell across state lines is already possible – it was authorized under the ACA and is up to the states. Many established insurance companies say they would be unlikely to participate since it would it would not be profitable.
ACA repeal could affect health industry jobs
The health care industry has been one of the best sectors for job creation since the 2007 recession. An increase in federal dollars under the ACA allowed companies, hospitals and universities to hire staff and build facilities. However, Trump’s promise to repeal the ACA could result in fewer jobs.
States, payers look to keep premiums down and cut costs
States are taking steps to help prevent large rate increases for consumers in the individual market or requiring costly treatments. Measures in Idaho, Oklahoma and Minnesota would allow for the transfer of some of the costs from insurers to state programs. And many state insurance commissioners are also moving back the deadlines for insurers to file for 2018 plans. Some companies are using reference pricing to keep health care costs down. In this model, the purchaser reimburses a patient for a procedure up to a designated amount, usually the midpoint price for a procedure in the region. While this strategy can cut costs, it may encourage unneeded procedures or compromise quality.
Providers hope CMS rule adjustment gives small practices access to APMs
Small practices are hoping CMS will issue a new rule in the next few weeks making it easier for them to participate in alternative payment models. CMS is increasingly shifting away from fee-for-service payments, emphasizing quality-based systems that determine payment based on performance. Small practices are hoping HHS Secretary Tom Price, a surgeon, will ease requirements in order to help small practices shift to alternative payment models.
Administration fires Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
The Trump Administration has removed U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy from his post. According to a statement from HHS, Murthy was asked to resign then relieved of his duties. Murthy’s view that gun violence is a public health issue differs from the current Administration. Murthy had nearly two years left on his four-year term as surgeon general.
Former head of SAMHSA named to top mental health post
President Donald Trump has nominated Elinore McCance-Katz to the recently created position of assistant secretary for mental health and substance abuse. The Senate-confirmed position was created by the 21st Century Cures Act, and is the highest ranking post specializing in mental health. McCance-Katz previously served as the first medical director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA); following her departure from SAMHSA, she was a vocal critic of SAMHSA for failing to focus on patients with serious psychiatric illnesses.