ACHP Media Monitoring Report: November 29, 2016

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ACHP in the News: ACHP President and CEO Ceci Connolly participated in a Politico Pro Healthcare Briefing on prescription drug costs.

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

– President-elect Trump has named Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price has been a leading critic of the Affordable Care Act and has offered an alternative plan that could serve as a replacement.

– President-elect Trump has selected Seema Verma as Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Verma previously oversaw the Medicaid expansion in Indiana under then-Governor Mike Pence, and most recently ran a health policy consulting company.

– President-elect Trump is expected to name Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation. Chao served as Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush.

– Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is meeting with President-elect Trump for the second time today. Reports indicate Romney is under consideration for Secretary of State.

– Retired General David Petraeus, also being considered for Secretary of State, met with President-elect Trump yesterday.

– House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) is asking governors and insurance commissioners for their input on a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.

Proponents of Medicaid eye Pence for hints on potential changes
Medicaid supporters are watching Vice President-elect Mike Pence closely for signs of the Trump administration’s plans for the program. While serving as Governor of Indiana, Pence accepted federal funds to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Pence received permission from the Obama administration to apply additional restrictions on the program, including minor fees for coverage, writes Phil Galewitz of Kaiser Health News. Medicaid supporters are hopeful Pence’s experience with the expansion will help convince the Trump administration to make only minor modifications to Medicaid.

Rep. Tom Price may halt value-based care initiatives
President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), is a critic of value-based care and the shift to paying doctors based on quality. Bruce Jaspen at Forbes writes Price is concerned requiring Medicare payments be linked to quality and outcomes could affect the patient-doctor relationship. As HHS Secretary, Price would manage the execution of value-based care and Medicare initiatives.

Cures Act expected to pass
The 21st Century Cures Act, which provides more than $6 billion toward medical advances, is predicted to have the support of the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation aims to increase access to new drugs, broaden mental health treatment and fight opioid abuse. Toni Clarke at Reuters shares supporters of the legislation say the bill promotes change while maintaining safety standards.

Grassley, Warren oppose Cures Act
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has announced he plans to oppose passage of the 21st Century Cures Act due to a lack of stringent disclosure requirements. According to Marry Ellen McIntire of Morning Consult, the act exempts device and drug makers from disclosing payments made to health care providers for educational purposes. Grassley believes the exemption undermines transparency in health care and circumvents the spirit of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act he sponsored, which was passed in 2010.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)  said on the Senate floor Monday she will oppose the 21st Century Cures bill, calling the measure a “handout to big pharma.” According to Warren, the $4.8 billion the bill provides the National Institutes of Health and other agencies is not enough to fund research and combat the opioid crisis. Consumer groups have expressed concern changes to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval processes could negatively affect safety standards. Peter Sullivan of The Hill shares the House will vote on the bill on Wednesday.

Anthem, Cigna disagree on merger details
Anthem Inc. and Cigna Corp. are at odds about the details of their merger, according to new court documents. Portions of the ongoing trial were closed as confidential information may have been disclosed; a judge recently ruled for the transcripts’ release after media organizations objected to their being sealed. The released testimony shows Cigna has questioned Anthem’s plans for the company after the merger is complete, and Anthem has attempted to move the deal forward without cooperation from Cigna. Brent Kendall and Anna Wilde Mathews of The Wall Street Journal reviewed the transcripts and report Anthem previously instituted a confidential merger integration team without informing Cigna (subscriber’s content).