ACHP Media Monitoring Report: May 15, 2017

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Senate Finance Committee hearing on CHRONIC Care Act tomorrow
On May 16, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the CHRONIC Care Act and ways to improve health outcomes for patients living with chronic illnesses. John G. Lovelace, President of Government Programs and Individual Advantage at UPMC Insurance Services Division, is scheduled to testify.

Health care bill update: Medicaid and ACA requirements on the table
The Senate working group on health care is facing hurdles similar to the House in creating consensus amongst Republicans. Conservative Senators are considering significant cuts to Medicaid, resulting in millions being dropped from the program and the biggest changes in Medicaid’s 52 year history. But Senate moderates and Senators whose states have expanded Medicaid are concerned it will leave too many uninsured. The cuts would also shift costs to states and hospitals.

Proposed cuts to Medicaid would also impact schools, which receive about $4 billion annually in reimbursements for eligible services they provide to poor and disabled students. The House bill transforms the program from one that reimburses schools a percentage of the cost of eligible services to a fixed-person reimbursement amount. This would shift costs to the states – leading to cuts in services and benefits, including mental health, school nurses, health screenings, community outreach, equipment and supplies.

Another controversial element of the GOP health care bill, allowing states to opt out of ACA requirements, may remain in the Senate’s version. According to budget experts, the provision may have enough impact on the budget to be included in the reconciliation process.

Industry leaders concerned about pricing
Global health care leaders are saying that pricing and reimbursement are currently the top challenges in the industry. A survey of health care executives and investors finds that 57 percent of participants cited pricing as the number one challenge, with cost and quality of health care being the next greatest concern.

Hospitals looking into food insecurity among patients
Doctors and nurses are more frequently asking patients about food insecurity. Clinicians at Memorial Hermann Health System began looking into the food struggles of patients, realizing they might skimp on medical care or prescriptions to avoid going hungry. Providers are asking if patients ran out of food in the past month or thought that they might. Depending on the location, 11 to 30 percent of patients said they struggle with affording healthy food. Providers are prescribing the most affordable medications, connecting patients with resources, including food pantries, a community health worker to brainstorm better nutrition on a tight budget, and enlisting volunteers to help sign patients up for SNAP benefits.