What’s New in Health Care Reform: Feb. 1

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.

Trump Order on Regulations Could Create Hurdles for FDA, Cures Act

President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to cut two regulations for every new one that they adopt, a move that could have significant implications for the Food and Drug Administration. Trump, who vowed throughout his campaign to ease the burden of government regulations in order to promote innovation, pledged at the signing ceremony that the order would be “the biggest such act our country has ever seen.” Via STAT.

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VA Hospitals Still Struggling with Adding Staff Despite Billions from Choice Act

Before they get to work on reforming the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Congress and the White House might want to take a closer look at the last time they tried it—a $16 billion dollar fix called the Veterans Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, designed to get veterans medical care more quickly. NPR and local member stations have been following that money—including the $10 billion dollars for vets to get care outside the VA system. The Choice Act also channeled about $2.5 billion for hiring more doctors, nurses, and other medical staff at VA medical centers. The goal of the hiring money was to address a simple math problem—the number of veterans coming to the VA has shot up in recent years, and the number of medical staff has not kept pace. The idea was that more caregivers would cut wait times. Via NPR.

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Obamacare Anxiety Grows for Insurers

The Trump administration's cancellation of Obamacare ads is adding to the uncertainty facing insurers as they wait for congressional Republicans to repeal the law. Republicans have vowed a smooth transition away from Obamacare and promised that no one now enrolled will lose coverage. But the Trump administration's decision to cancel television ads promoting enrollment is raising questions about how much support officials will provide for the system in the interim period before any repeal takes effect. Via The Hill.

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Obamacare Repeal Could Threaten Provisions That Help Older Adults

Republican lawmakers meeting in Philadelphia say they want their replacement of Obamacare to be done by spring. There is no consensus on a plan yet, but several Republicans in Congress have already circulated proposals that could reduce or eliminate features of the federal health law that have benefited older Americans. Via NPR.

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Medicaid Could Struggle to Cover Breakthrough Treatments under GOP’s Plans

Under the GOP’s vision for overhauling Medicaid, the program could struggle to afford expensive breakthrough treatments, cutting off its recipients from the latest medical innovations, warn policy experts and patient advocates. Republican plans to institute some kind of Medicaid spending cap would mark a fundamental change in the nature of the program. Right now, the federal government (with mandatory matching funds from the states, which actually administer Medicaid) pays whatever costs recipients incur for care that is covered by the program. Via STAT.

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Hospitals Worry Repeal of Obamacare Would Jeopardize Innovations in Care

Much has been written about the 20 million people who gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and what could happen to these patients if the ACA is repealed without a replacement. But some people don't realize that hospitals nationwide could take a big financial hit on several fronts, too.. Via NPR.

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Medical Supplies Would Be Hit By Trump's Proposed 20% Tax on Mexican Imports

The Trump administration floated the idea of imposing a 20% tax on imports from Mexico to pay for a wall along the southern border aimed at stopping illegal immigration. Medical distributors and manufacturers source raw materials and finished products from many locations around the world, including Mexico. The U.S. imports more medical, surgical, dental, or veterinarian instruments from Mexico than any other country. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Providers Lobby Trump, Congress to Follow Path away from Medicare Fee-for-Service

Providers and insurers are among health care leaders lobbying Congress and the Trump administration to continue to push Medicare into value-based payment models. A number of health care organizations, including the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of CEOs from various sectors of the industry, sent letters to Republican lawmakers hailing the benefits of payment models that focus on quality and value. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Republicans Have Plans to Replace Obamacare—Now They Need to Agree on One

Republicans have a plan to replace Obamacare. In fact, they have several. What they don't have is consensus on which one will guide the party's effort to reshape an insurance system that provides coverage for some 20 million Americans. House and Senate Republicans gathered in Philadelphia at their annual retreat in an attempt to find agreement across members of the House and Senate on the path forward. President Trump and Vice President Pence will huddle with Republicans to discuss an ambitious 2017 agenda that also includes overhauling the tax code and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Via NPR.

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Hill Republicans Feel Big-Footed on Obamacare

President Donald Trump's recent assertion he will deliver his own health care plan to Congress has antagonized many Republican lawmakers gathered at a retreat in Philadelphia, which could make it harder to reach agreement on a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Lawmakers have been blindsided by the president’s statements about the elements of an Obamacare replacement plan. Some are also unnerved by the prospect that the executive branch, rather than Congress, will write the legislation and potentially tread on the constitutional notion of separation of powers. Via Politico.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. He leads strategies for corporate communications, public relations, and new media innovations. Andy has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2003. Outside of work, Andy can be found running, hiking, snapping photos, and most importantly, spending time with his family.