ACHP Media Monitoring Report: February 16, 2017

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Seema Verma’s first hearing is today
The Senate Finance Committee will hold its first hearing to consider the nomination of Seema Verma for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator. Verma oversaw and implemented a conservative version of Medicaid under then-Governor Mike Pence. CNN has prepared a profile on Verma’s work with Medicaid.

Anthem files countersuit against Cigna
In response to a lawsuit filed by Cigna, Anthem has filed a countersuit arguing Cigna has attempted to “sabotage” a merger between the two companies. Anthem’s countersuit aims to force Cigna to abide by the merger agreement and seeks damages for Cigna’s alleged attempts to undermine the merger, reports Anna Wiled Mathews of The Wall Street Journal. Cigna had previously announced an end to the merger and filed a suit against Anthem for damages after a federal judge ruled against the merger on antitrust grounds.

Market stabilization rule suggests long-term changes
The Trump administration could be aiming to create an environment that is friendlier to insurers. According to analysts, the market stabilization rule released yesterday was meant to send a signal about the direction the administration is headed, including generating greater flexibility for insurers. David Nather and Bob Herman at Axios have the story.

The proposed rules shorten the open enrollment period for plans sold on Healthcare.gov and change some criteria for signing up. The aim is to encourage a smaller, healthier base to enroll, which would improve the financial stability of the marketplace and encourage insurers to participate. Robert Pear at The New York Times shares a challenge to the market comes as President Trump focuses on repealing the ACA while Congress searches for a viable replacement to the health law.

Drug costs, older population contribute to health spending
Rising medical costs coupled with an aging population are causing health care spending to grow in the coming years. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released projections yesterday that national spending on health care will reach $5.5 trillion by 2025. Carolyn Johnson at The Washington Post provides insight into why spending is climbing, including inflation and the cost of prescription drugs.

Studies of Note

In this feature, the Media Monitoring Report shares a selection of notable research studies within the health care industry.

Essential Facts About Health Reform Alternatives: Block-Granting Medicaid
The Commonwealth Fund
February 10, 2017
The block-granting model is one popular suggestion among Republicans to reform Medicaid. The Commonwealth Fund breaks down how the funding model works and its potential effect on spending and coverage.

National Health Expenditure Projections, 2016–25: Price Increases, Aging Push Sector to 20 Percent of Economy
Health Affairs
February 2017
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released projections on spending growth through 2025. Currently, national health expenditures are expected to increase annually 5.6 percent between 2016 and 2025.

Sharp Rise Reported in Older Americans’ Use of Multiple Psychotropic Drugs
The New York Times
February, 2017
Between 2004 and 2013, the number of older Americans prescribed three or more psychiatric drugs doubled, according to research led by University of Michigan Professor Donovan Maust, M.D. M.S. Maust’s research also discovered almost half of the patients did not have any mental health diagnosis.