ACHP Media Monitoring Report – July 19, 2017

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ACHP in the News: The next ACA subsidy payment is due tomorrow, and Trump has considered stopping the payments as a negotiating tactic. According to White House officials, a final decision on the payments has not been made. ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly said that eliminating the subsidies could leave millions of working families without access to coverage or care.

Experts anxious about possible Administration action on health care
Failed efforts at health care reform have left the ACA intact, but stakeholders are concerned about how the Trump Administration might carry out the law. In particular, industry experts are worried the administration will end cost-sharing subsidies and stop enforcement of the individual mandate. The next scheduled payment for cost-sharing subsidies is Thursday; reports indicate the President is considering halting them, but the White House has not formally announced any changes.

Repeal without replace faces opposition, would affect consumers
At least three GOP Senators have said they will oppose Mitch McConnell’s plan to repeal the ACA without a replacement bill by voting against a procedural motion. On Tuesday evening, McConnell said he still plans to hold a vote. Trump plans to negotiate with Republican Senators at a lunch on Wednesday in an attempt to revive the repeal effort. The Senate HELP Committee will hold hearings to discuss bipartisan approaches to health care if the bill fails.

A repeal bill with no replacement plan would immediately impact consumers. More insurers would leave the exchanges, and those that do stay would increase rates, creating problems for people buying insurance on the individual market this fall. Additionally, individuals who qualified for Medicaid under the expansion could be dropped from the program when federal funding runs out.

Value-based models should focus on outcomes, not processes
In a piece for Modern Healthcare, Dr. John Cuddeback argues many value measurements are focused on processes that may often be associated with good health outcomes, but are not an actual measure of patients’ experiences. He advocates for models that focus on actual health outcomes, which are often recorded but rarely used in payment models. Cuddeback is an executive at the health trade group, AMGA.

Free consults for Huntington’s disease patients
The Huntington’s Disease Society of America launched free online therapy sessions for patients and their families. Half of Huntington’s disease patients are referred to counseling, but only 15-25 percent attend it. These free virtual visits with licensed social workers and psychologists aim to remove barriers of cost and geography to fill the gap in care.

Incentives to reduce hospital readmissions hasn’t increased deaths
A recent study found no evidence that pushing hospitals to lower readmission rates has resulted in greater risk of dying for discharged patients. The Journal of American Medical Association study examined six million hospitalizations over seven years to determine if the ACA’s penalties for hospitals with high readmission rates created unintended consequences. In fact, the study showed hospitals with reduced readmissions were more likely to reduce mortality for patients after they were hospitalized.

Brain scans could help treat patients with memory loss
New research suggests PET scans could help diagnose patients with unusual memory loss. The findings come from a study to determine if Medicare should pay for specialized PET scans to identify a sticky plaque called amyloid, an indicator of Alzheimer’s. The scans can rule out Alzheimer’s and help determine if a patient’s symptoms are a result of a more treatable condition, like depression.

Developing nations offer ideas on health care
Americans could look to the developing world for alternative approaches to improving the health care system. Nations like Rwanda, Ghana and Peru have made great strides in the past decade when it comes to increasing access to care. A few lessons can be learned from the experiences of these nations, including the effectiveness of consolidating the health care system into one large risk pool—instead of splitting demographics—and establishing cost controls to scale back unnecessary care.