ACHP Media Monitoring Report: January 30, 2017

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ACHP in the news: ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly explains how increased enrollment can decrease costs for consumers in a discussion with Politico about the Trump administration’s decision to continue some  ACA advertising and outreach after initial efforts to roll them back.

 GOP divided over efforts to repeal ACA
A leaked recording from a closed-door session reveals Republican legislators are increasingly uncomfortable with hasty efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the recording, many Republican legislators expressed unease with efforts to repeal the ACA via the reconciliation process without an adequate replacement plan in place. Others expressed dissatisfaction with President Trump’s leadership on the issue, citing a lack of coordination and clarity from the administration, reports Mike Debonis of The Washington Post. Republican lawmakers appear to remain divided on a replacement plan as they debated tax credits, the Medicaid expansion and the future of the exchanges.

Experts urge consumers to enroll in health care before deadline
With the uncertain future of the ACA, many consumers are expressing concerns about their financial and medical future. Experts are advising individuals to sign up for plans before the January 31 deadline, continue to pay premiums and seek treatment while costs and coverage are still known. The Associated Press reports.

White House could affect last days of ACA enrollment
The Trump administration has pulled most television advertisements promoting health coverage through the ACA. Noam Levey of The Los Angeles Times shares the action is causing fears the administration may be attempting to undermine the program in the final days of enrollment. Insurers are concerned fewer young, healthy individuals, who are critical to a sustainable marketplace, will sign up.

House to discuss continuous coverage
On Thursday, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will discuss several bills related to the ACA, including proving insurance to those with pre-existing conditions. David Nather at Axios explains the House will likely use continuous coverage to allow consumers with pre-existing conditions to maintain coverage. The committee aims to settle on the right incentives to encourage consumers to stay insured and create options similar to employer-sponsored coverage.

Value-based payment leads to exploration of patient input
The shift toward a value-based payment model is encouraging policy makers, health care providers and payers to consider additional options for including patient feedback into treatment and quality assessments  including patient-reported outcomes. Advocates believe the input can maximize value by increasing patient satisfaction and decreasing unnecessary spending on unwanted procedures. Discussions about how to develop effective assessment models and integrate patient-reported outcomes are ongoing, as experts remain divided about how to best incorporate patient feedback. Elizabeth Whitman of Modern Healthcare has the story.

Congress passes HRA reauthorization
Congress reauthorized Health Reimbursement Arrangements at the end of last year, allowing businesses with fewer than 50 employees to use pretax funds to reimburse individuals for costs related to health care. The legislation offers employers who do not participate in group health plans a way to provide some health benefits. Laura Saunders at The Wall Street Journal has the story.

GOP focus on HSAs may not address public frustrations on cost
Most Republican replacement plans for the ACA include an expanded use of health savings accounts. Caitlin Owens of Axios notes this policy is unlikely to assuage public concerns about mounting deductibles and high out-of-pocket expenses. Owens provides a breakdown of arguments for and against health savings accounts, and points out the tool does not address underlying issues driving high deductibles and rising costs for consumers.

Blog Review

Our weekly Blog Review features insightful posts from around the web and keeps an eye on medical industry and health news via the Trend Watch. This week we review posts about the Aetna and Humana merger. This week’s Trend Watch compiles posts discussing payments to providers.

 Aetna-Humana Merger

Judge Says Aetna Dropped Out of Some Obamacare Markets to Help Win Its Merger Fight
Wonk Blog – Washington Post
Health care reporter Carolyn Johnson explores U.S. District Court Judge John Bates’ finding that Aetna withdrew from state exchanges in order to improve positioning from an antitrust litigation standpoint. In his ruling against the merger of Aetna and Humana, Bates asserts Aetna’s decision to withdraw from the profitable Florida exchanges demonstrates Aetna was driven by efforts to reduce claims of antitrust violations during merger hearings.

Physician Work Helps Halt Insurance Merger, Preserve Competition
AMA Wire
AMA Wire Staff Writer Troy Parks highlights the role physicians played in defeating the Humana-Aetna merger. Parks notes American Medical Association leaders testified against the merger and provided surveys demonstrating physician resistance to the deal.

Trend Watch

Payments to Providers

A Better Model For Healthcare In America
Washington Examiner
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) believes to bring down the cost of health care, we must identify the sources of expenses. Rep. Murphy suggests paying providers to help encourage patients to live healthier lifestyles and manage health problems because many individuals experience preventable conditions that cost the health care system.

Medicare Physician Payment: Why It’s Still a Problem, And What To Do Now
Health Affairs
Mayo Clinic Chief Administrative Officer Emeritus Robert Smoldt and colleagues discuss Medicare payment rates to physicians. Smoldt outlines why MACRA should go further to link Medicare payments to quality and long-term spending.