ACHP Media Monitoring Report – June 28, 2017

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ACHP in the News: Hospitals, doctors and nursing homes are concerned about the proposed cuts to Medicaid in the GOP health care bill, and insurers are warning the cuts could hurt state budgets and affect treatment for those addicted to opioids. The Senate plan goes further to curb Medicaid spending in the future than the House bill.  ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly said limiting Medicaid spending growth per beneficiary to the consumer price index is not a realistic aspiration.

Vote delayed amid concerns about GOP bill
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed a vote on the bill to repeal the ACA, pushing the vote to after the July 4 recess. A handful of Republican Senators have opposed the bill, and industry groups plan to take up lobbying efforts in Senators’ home states during the recess, which could jeopardize the bill’s chances of passing. It remains unclear if a vote will happen after the break. Republicans can only lose two votes out of their 52-seat majority.

Several governors are also pushing back against provisions in the bill, contributing to the delay in voting on the legislation. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) and Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) have called on the Senate to work on a bipartisan alternative, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) and Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) issued a joint letter to postpone the vote. More than six Republican governors have expressed reservations about the GOP health plan, and no governors have publically lobbied in support of the bill.

Voters have also expressed opposition. According to a Morning Consult/POLITICO survey, more than 50 percent of registered voters oppose cuts to Medicaid.

Designers of ACA offer suggestions to fix health law
In interviews with USA Today, ACA architects Ezekiel Emanuel and former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius provide recommendations on how to repair and improve the health law. Suggestions include stabilizing the market by continuing CSR subsidies, rewarding preventative medicine, empowering Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate drug prices and providing incentives for plans that participate in the exchanges.

Administration actions on value-based care worries some experts
Since President Trump has taken office, the Administration has slowed the implementation of value-based payment models in an attempt to ease regulatory burdens. CMS and HHS have delayed the expansion of a number of pilot programs, and the Administration has designated many value-based models as voluntary. Some quality experts worry these moves may remove incentives for providers to focus on reforming practices to ensure quality outcomes and undermine wider pushes for value-based health care.

Telehealth shows promise in managing chronic diseases
New studies show digital medicine can improve outcomes for diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. A growing number of hospitals and health systems are using technology to remotely monitor and modify patients’ behavior. Intermountain Healthcare is testing a prediabetes program where patients log daily activity and food online or in a mobile app to receive feedback from a personal health coach.

ACA requirements may have led to earlier cancer diagnoses
Early diagnoses of breast cancer have occurred more frequently since the ACA was signed into law, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology. After the health law went into effect, Stage 1 diagnoses for cancers rose by more than three percent, providing more opportunities for earlier intervention and treatment. The study’s authors believe the increase may be attributed to wider coverage for mammograms due to ACA requirements.

Hospital hyperbaric therapies rise
Facilities that offer hyperbaric therapies for diabetic patients have tripled since 2002, the year Medicare began reimbursing for the treatment. Hyperbaric therapy is not recommended by the American Diabetes Association due to lack of efficacy data, and experts claim that it has risen in popularity due to high Medicare reimbursement rates.