ACHP Media Monitoring Report: November 17, 2016

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ACHP in the News: ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly discussed the future of the Affordable Care Act in the business newsletter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association and Bloomberg.

New on the Blog: ACHP Post-Election Briefing

Presidential Transition Brief
Until inauguration on January 20, ACHP will provide updates on the presidential transition.

– Newly elected Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has announced the rest of his leadership team: Dick Durbin (D-IL) remains minority whip, Patty Murray (D-WA) will serve as assistant Democratic leader and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) will be the chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is the new conference vice chair and Bernie Sanders (D-VT) is the outreach chair.

– Our Hill sources say the edge in the fight to be the next House Energy and Commerce Chair goes to Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) over current National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR). While Walden has helped many members win elections, Shimkus has seniority.

GOP look to start ACA repeal in January
Republicans are aiming to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act in January; repeal efforts could begin as early as Inauguration Day. If Republican lawmakers choose to use reconciliation, a budget process, to immediately repeal a majority of the ACA, they would likely delay the effective date until a replacement health law could be implemented. In an alternate approach, the GOP may start chipping away at smaller, less-popular provisions before repealing bigger pieces of the law. Democrats are asking for a replacement plan to show the public how health coverage may change. Jennifer Haberkorn at Politico has the story.

Surgeon General issues drug and alcohol report
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D., MBA, is adding drug and alcohol addiction to the list of public health crises of the past half-century, alongside AIDS and smoking. A report released Thursday details the effects of drug and alcohol abuse and notes that in 2015 more than 20 million Americans had a substance-abuse disorder. Murthy has said the epidemic is a “moral test” for the country, writes Lenny Bernstein of The Washington Post.

Consumers choosing to forgo ACA health plans
Many Americans are opting to pay a penalty rather than enroll in insurance plans through the state exchanges, a trend that may continue as the future of the Affordable Care Act remains uncertain. Ana B. Ibarra at California Healthline shares despite sign-up efforts, consumers are expressing doubt about enrolling in plans following the election. According to health policy experts, enrollment numbers will play a significant role in determining how Republican lawmakers will change the health law.

ACA enrollment steady in opening days
In the first 12 days of open enrollment, about 53,000 more consumers have signed up for health coverage than in the same time frame last year. Other statistics have remained low, including call center volume, the number of users on the website and the number of individuals shopping for plan options. The Associated Press explains the push for enrollment did not begin until after the election.

WellCare announces acquisition of Universal American
WellCare Health Plans, based in Tampa, Florida, is moving to purchase Universal American, which offers Medicare Advantage plans in in Texas, New York and Maine. According to Bruce Japsen of Forbes, a Republican-controlled Congress paired with a Trump administration could be favorable to mergers and Medicare Advantage business.

Studies of Note

In this feature, the Media Monitoring Report shares a selection of notable research studies within the health care industry.

Nursing Assistants and Quality Care

Nursing Skill Mix in European Hospitals: Cross-Sectional Study of the Association with Mortality, Patient Ratings, and Quality of Care
BMJ Quality and Safety
November 15, 2016
Lead author University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research Director Linda H. Aiken and colleagues find more professional nurses on staff leads to better outcomes for both patients and providers. Adding nursing associates to hospital staff, which lowers the skill mix overall, may result in an increase in preventable deaths and a decrease in the quality of care, report the researchers.

Use of Statins

New Statin Guidelines: Everyone 40 and Older Should be Considered for the Drug Therapy
The Washington Post
November 13, 2016
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released new recommendations for the use of statin drugs. All individuals over the age of 40 should now be screened to determine if they need the medication, including those without a history of heart disease. Staff Writer Ariana Eunjung Cha reports.

PCSK9 Inhibitors

Study Shows Promise for Expensive Cholesterol Drugs, but They Are Still Hard to Obtain
The New York Times
November 2016
A study comparing the effects of two cholesterol drugs reveals certain PCSK9 inhibitors can drastically lower LDL cholesterol levels in patients. Statins lowered the LDL cholesterol of patients to excellent levels; PCSK9’s had an even more pronounced effect on patients. The study did not assess whether PCSK9 inhibitors are safe or prevent heart disease-related deaths. The study was led by South Australian and Medical Research Institute Professor of Cardiology Stephen J. Nicholls, M.D., PhD.

Effects of ACA Repeal

Republican ACA Repeal Bill Would Unravel the Market Even Before It Goes Into Effect
Center for American Progress
November 2016
In an analysis of how a reconciliation bill will affect health insurance markets, Vice President for Health Policy Topher Spiro and Research Associate for Health Policy Thomas Huelskoetter find “massive disruption and chaos” could occur in the individual market, even if the effective date of Affordable Care repeal is delayed. The authors note not all provisions of the ACA are likely to be repealed as the reconciliation framework limits the bill to budget-related measures.