What's New in Health Care Reform provides an overview of the past week’s news, updates, and commentary in health care reform and utilization management.
Price to Face Grilling on Trump's Order to Weaken Obamacare
Rep. Tom Price, President Donald Trump’s pick to run HHS, will likely face a barrage of questions about how he’ll wield the president’s order telling federal agencies to do everything in their power to weaken Obamacare. The executive order issued hours after Trump was inaugurated clears the way for the swift and unilateral rollback of large parts of Obamacare, but it also puts Price in a dicey position after he told lawmakers last week the new administration wouldn’t “pull the rug out” from under people now covered by the health care law. Via Politico.
GOP Senators Debut Health Plan with State Option to Keep ACA Exchanges
Two Republican senators introduced a plan under which states could choose to maintain the Obamacare exchanges or overhaul the program. The proposal from Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Susan Collins (Maine) would allow state capitols to decide whether to maintain the Affordable Care Act or to launch a new plan that would automatically enroll people not covered by an employer, Medicare or Medicaid in a plan. Via Morning Consult.
Trump Signs Executive Order to "Ease the Burdens of Obamacare"
As promised, President Trump got to work on Day One, spending some time in the Oval Office in between the inaugural parade and a trio of formal balls. Trump signed an executive order directing government agencies to "ease the burdens" of Obamacare while the new administration and Congress work toward repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus presented Trump with the order, which he described as: "An executive order minimizing the economic burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act pending repeal." Via NPR.
With Executive Order, Trump Tosses a "Bomb" into Fragile Health Insurance Markets
The political signal of the order, which Trump signed just hours after being sworn into office, was clear: Even before the Republican-led Congress acts to repeal the 2010 law, the new administration will move swiftly to unwind as many elements as it can on its own—elements that have changed how 20 million Americans get health coverage and what benefits insurers must offer some of their customers. But the practical implications of Trump’s action are harder to decipher. Its language instructs all federal agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay” any part of the law that imposes a financial or regulatory burden on those affected by it. That would cover consumers, doctors, hospitals, and other providers, as well as insurers and drug companies. Via Washington Post.
How Trump Can Use Obamacare to Kill Obamacare
Conservatives who railed against Barack Obama's vast powers to build up the Affordable Care Act declared vindication with President Donald Trump’s executive order to tear it apart. Via Politico.
Obamacare Chief's New Mission: Save Obamacare
Andy Slavitt’s job was to run Obamacare. Now he’s trying to save it. Slavitt stepped down as acting administrator of CMS, the sprawling federal agency that oversees the Affordable Care Act. Later that day, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that could blow much of the law apart. Rather than return to his lucrative career as a health entrepreneur in Minnesota, Slavitt expects to spend his time with hospital CEOs, governors, drug companies, and “everybody with a vested interest” in repairing rather than discarding the health law, he said in an exclusive exit interview with POLITICO. Via Politico.
Trump’s Nominee for Agriculture Has Key Health Role
Amid the cacophony of confirmation hearings for Cabinet nominees, President-elect Donald Trump reportedly has settled on former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to fill the final Cabinet-department vacancy: secretary of Agriculture. Although consumers may simply think of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) as responsible for overseeing the farming industry, it also plays a key role in promoting health. The department is influential in maintaining the nation’s health in four key areas. Via Kaiser Health News.
Trump’s Health Plan Would Convert Medicaid to Block Grants, Aide Says
President Trump’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act will propose giving each state a fixed amount of federal money in the form of a block grant to provide health care to low-income people on Medicaid, a top adviser to Mr. Trump said in an interview broadcast. The adviser, Kellyanne Conway, who is Mr. Trump’s White House counselor, said that converting Medicaid to a block grant would ensure that “those who are closest to the people in need will be administering” the program. Via NY Times.
FDA Commissioner: Updated Regulations Will Help Further Health Care Innovation
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn't have a reputation for speed and adaptability, but according to its top administrator, the agency has developed a new regulatory process to rapidly approve technology that will support federal initiatives geared towards health care innovations, including precision medicine. Via Fierce Healthcare.
GOP Split over Medicaid Imperils Obamacare Plans
Conservatives have long called for block-granting Medicaid, which would cap spending and give states direct control over the program that provides health care coverage for low-income Americans. That goal is finally within reach now that Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House. But divisions over how to do it are already causing tension. At the crux of the matter is an impossible task set forth by Trump: In recent interviews he has said he wants to block-grant Medicaid funding to the states but also ensure the roughly 11 million people who received coverage under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion do not lose it. Via Politico.