ACHP Media Monitoring Report – July 6, 2017

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ACHP in the News: Sen. Ted Cruz’s health care plan would allow insurers offering one ACA compliant plan the option to sell cheaper plans with less coverage. Some say Cruz’s plan would increase options while lowering costs, but policy experts say it would cause healthy individuals to choose the cheaper option while sicker people opt for the plans with greater coverage. According to ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly, Cruz’s plan would increase the likelihood of a smaller, sicker group with higher rates.

Member News: The rising cost of drugs is causing many patients to skip medications or not adhere to treatment plans. Sarah Groen, a pharmacist with HealthPartners‘ medication therapy management program, says she’s seeing more patients who are struggling to afford their drugs, and some doctors are categorizing the high cost of drugs as a chronic health problem.

Options for compromise on health care, White House backs Cruz’s plan
If the GOP is unable to repeal and replace the ACA, party leaders may be forced to work across the aisle on less sweeping health care reform. Steven Brill outlines nine ways Congress could work together, including giving more generous subsidies to older Americans, implementing price controls on prescription drugs and creating enrollment incentives for young people. Lev Facher and Erin Mershon of STAT also highlight potential compromises on health care reform, including more flexibility in state exchanges, a stabilization package, replacing the individual mandate and additional opioid treatment funding.

The White House is supporting Sen. Ted Cruz’s proposal to allow insurers to sell plans that do not comply with ACA mandates, as long as they offer at least one option that meets consumer protection standards. Many conservative Senators support the plan, while others worry it would it not offer protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Health care reform doesn’t address high costs
President Trump and Congressional Republicans promised to lower the cost of health care, but policy experts are skeptical either bill under consideration would achieve that goal. Many analysts believe both bills would shift health care costs from one group to another or that costs would manifest in different ways. Health care experts believe Congress must address underlying costs, including prescription drug prices, administrative costs and the use of defensive medicine.

Medicaid research misinterpreted
Research demonstrates individuals on Medicaid often have worse health outcomes than those with no insurance, which has led some conservative policymakers to conclude that the program does not improve a person’s health. However, such an analysis fails to account for the fact that Medicaid enrollees are more likely to be sick prior to enrollment and are more likely to experience socioeconomic factors that lead to worse health outcomes.

Dental lobby holds political sway
In most states, many routine dental treatments must be carried out by a fully licensed dentist. Over the past few years, states have considered allowing mid-level practitioners known as dental therapists to perform more of these treatments in order to expand access to treatment and bring down costs. The American Dental Association has spent millions of dollars advocating against such legislation. Critics claim the dental lobby is merely trying to block competition, often at the expense of patients.

Uber and Lyft address move into health care transportation market
Ride service companies Uber and Lyft are increasingly partnering with insurers and health systems to provide non-emergency transportation for people who need rides to appointments. The move provides a convenient, inexpensive transportation option for patients who have difficulty meeting appointments, and in some cases the transportation fee is covered by the health plan. These partnerships lower a barrier to accessing health care – currently, about 25 percent of patients in the suburbs miss appointments due to lack of transportation.