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Presidential Transition Brief
-President-elect Donald Trump has named the following appointees:
Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, who is challenging restrictions on the use of coal established by the Obama administration;
Former Senate candidate and businesswoman Linda McMahon (R-CT) as Administrator of the Small Business Administration, who cofounded World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.;
And Governor Terry Brandstad (R-IA) as Ambassador to China.
– President-elect Donald Trump is considering Silicon Valley investor Jim O’Neill for Director of the Food and Drug Administration, who has stated establishing the efficacy of a drug is not necessary before it goes to market.
Democrats pledge to defend Medicare
Democrats promise to “fight tooth and nail” against attempts to partially privatize the Medicare system. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has proposed a plan to provide seniors with vouchers to purchase their own coverage, explains Peter Sullivan of The Hill. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, has also pushed for a voucher system. On the campaign trail, Trump promised there would be no cuts to the program, and Democrats plan to hold the president-elect accountable to his pledge.
CMS head urges nonpartisan approach to health care reform
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt is calling on lawmakers to explore options that build on successes and reform the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rather than repeal the law without an adequate replacement. In remarks Wednesday at Modern Healthcare’s 2016 Leadership Symposium, Slavitt attested leaders should ignore partisanship and focus on solutions to the challenges America’s health care system faces. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to repeal the ACA, but has so far not offered a replacement plan. Shelby Livingston at Modern Healthcare has the story.
Coalition asks for support of value-based care
Health care groups wrote to Congress and the leaders of the incoming administration this week to encourage them to support the transition to value-based care. The letter was sent by a coalition of 43 groups, including insurers, physician groups and a state health care authority. Mary Ellen McIntire at Morning Consult shares Republicans have yet to say if their Affordable Care Act replacement plan will include the Obama administration’s goal of shifting away from fee-for-service payment models.
Senate approves heavily lobbied Cures Act
The Senate passed the 21st Century Cures Act yesterday by a vote of 94-5. The act will help fight the opioid epidemic, increase funding for cancer and Alzheimer’s research and improve access to mental health care services. Critics of the bill, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT), assert it will lower standards for drug approvals and give handouts to pharmaceutical companies. The House passed the bill by an overwhelming margin last week, and the legislation will now go to President Obama to sign into law. Toni Clarke of Reuters has the story.
Several industries within the health care sector have invested significantly in lobbying efforts leading up to the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. Sydney Lupkin and Steven Findlay at Kaiser Health News report pharmaceutical and medical device companies spent more than $190 million; according to disclosures, medical schools, hospitals and physicians’ groups spent more than $120 million on lobbying including the cures act; and health information technology and software companies spent $35 million on the cures act and other legislation.
Oscar opens Brooklyn clinic
Oscar Health Insurance has opened the Oscar Center, its first clinic in Brooklyn, New York, in partnership with Mt. Sinai Health System. The clinic is free for Oscar members and offers services ranging from primary care to yoga and nutrition classes. James Covert of the New York Post reports Oscar will begin providing group insurance to employers in February in a shift away from the exchanges.
U.S. life expectancy declines as health worsens
For the first time in more than 20 years, life expectancy for Americans has dropped. A report from the National Center for Health Statistics reveals heart disease, stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses and accidents are contributing to rising death tolls. Lenny Bernstein at The Washington Post explains experts note other Western nations are not experiencing similar rises in mortality, which suggests a need to determine what differentiates health, health care and socioeconomic conditions in the United States from other nations
Studies of Note
In this feature, the Media Monitoring Report shares a selection of notable research studies within the health care industry.
Retirement Costs for Women
The High Cost of Living Longer: Women and Retirement Health Care
Women will need about 20 percent more in savings to afford health-care costs in retirement than men, according to a new report. Women live on average two years longer than men and thus have more time to incur out-of-pocket costs.
Effects of ACA Repeal
New Clues in the Mystery of Women’s Lagging Life Expectancy
December 6, 2016
In a brief comparing health coverage under the Affordable Care Act with a similar measure to last year’s reconciliation bill, researchers from the Urban Institute find 22.5 million people would lose health insurance. More than 80 percent of the newly uninsured would come from working-class families. The overall number of Americans without insurance would rise to about 30 million.
Coverage for Dependents
Low-Income Working Families with Employer-Sponsored Insurance Turn to Public Insurance for Their Children
Due to the increasing cost of employer-sponsored insurance, many families are turning to a public option for coverage for their children. Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania find the proportion of children without employer-sponsored coverage increased to 15.2 percent in 2013 from 22.5 percent in 2008.
Teaching High-Value Care
Navigating Ethical Tensions in High-Value Care Education
Medical school and residency are important times to teach high-value care, as doctors who were trained in high-spending regions tend to provide care at a greater cost than those who were educated in low-spending ones, according to physicians from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Alabama. The doctors describe the ethical tension between reducing costs and maintaining patient welfare.