Industry Voices—This is the real issue that should be driving the national healthcare conversation

https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/hospitals-health-systems/industry-voices-real-issue-should-be-driving-healthcare-conversation?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTUdFNU9UQTFaV1U1TWpsayIsInQiOiJuOXFyQVwvWGx0NUFJdnhjK0ZEZ0ZwamdmMU8wXC9ZWkNPZkMydnJIOHR4eW9mT0RJVmphWGd5b3F4aFB6RTZaOG8yU21uZm91UVJFUGU4UWxBXC9DdXdoaWIwTFRFYW53dTlRWVwvRUs1dUN4WWtONjF1ZEJJemVCM2ZnQURGWnB1Z1EifQ%3D%3D&mrkid=959610&utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal

Healthcare is traditionally one of the top issues voters say they want Congress to address. This year, the sentiment has intensified. From presidential town hall meetings to congressional hearings to recent public opinion polling, an overwhelming majority of Republican and Democratic voters want Congress to address rising healthcare costs.

But employers and their employees have more at stake than just the cost of utilizing a drug or service, the narrative that is driving today’s healthcare discussion in Congress.

Indeed, employers are at a crossroads in addressing the critical issue of healthcare costs. The fact of the matter is that most employers have no idea how their benefit programs affect employee health outcomes. While it sounds logical that employers understand the link between the benefits they purchase and their employees’ long-term health status, they don’t. Most employers manage their benefits program in separate silos with a single-minded focus only on short-term costs.

When employers focus only on unit costs and transactions in healthcare, employees are undertreated and employers overpay.

Instead of a short-term cost approach, designing healthcare benefits that align the interests of employees and employers around health, and focus on connecting employee health status, care options and outcomes will help employers attain the ultimate goal of a healthy, productive workforce that drives business value for the company.

Employers are recognizing the urgency of this choice but aren’t yet doing enough to address it. If employers don’t start doing a better job of purchasing benefits that help keep employees healthy and productively at work, in part through effective treatment of manageable diseases, our future global competitiveness will be greatly challenged.

For example, better use of medicines can improve health and overall quality of life, which can lead to improved productivity from lower disability and fewer missed days of work. A study found adults with multiple sclerosis that improved medication adherence by 10 percentage points decreased the likelihood of an inpatient or emergency room visit by 9% to 19% and days of work lost by 3% to 8%. Another study found that for workers with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, better medication adherence resulted in less time out of work and more than $3,100 in savings on average per worker annually.

Yet, time and again when it comes time to decide on benefits coverage, the choice offered to employers by payers centers on the cost of therapy and not the value it delivers.

What should employers do to define the best path ahead? We believe that when it’s time to negotiate benefits packages with payers, employers must take a more holistic approach to foster key components of healthy, productive workers by addressing the following guiding principles:

  • The health and well-being of a workforce is a long-term investment for employers.
     
  • Tangible outcomes for both employers and employees should be clearly defined and include input from both stakeholder communities.
     
  • Benefits should be designed to optimize positive outcomes (both health-related and readiness for work) for the heterogenous population of covered lives.
     
  • Employers should be able to access data to see both unit cost and total cost of care for any given mix of interventions. Employers should evaluate currently available data to define gaps and call on vendors to aid in bridging those information voids.

As price and upfront cost continue to dominate the headlines, a substantive policy conversation among all different healthcare stakeholders about what constitutes value is needed. Without such inclusive dialogue, the value narrative will continue to revolve solely around “whether to pay or not to pay” for a particular intervention. For employers at the crossroads who know that determining value isn’t a binary exercise, the correct path forward is focusing on a definition of value that includes broader outcomes and recognizes the heterogeneity of covered lives.

Our employees depend upon it.

 

 

 

 

Segment 10 – What Can I Do to Fix Healthcare?

Segment 10 – What Can I Do to Fix Healthcare?

 

Slide11

This segment reviews steps that viewers can take locally as well as civic actions that can support healthcare restraint and reform at a national level.

In the last Segment we looked at what I call the Big Fix. It is based on the idea of setting limits fairly. I highlighted the Oregon Health Plan that was successfully implemented from 1994 to 2002.

In this final Segment, I hope to motivate you to action: Think National, and Act Local.

Here are some ideas for acting locally.

Slide06

Healthcare is a big topic to talk about. Tell friends about the need to set limits. Send out links to this You Tube on your social media. Also ask questions of your doctors to let them know that cost is an issue for you, such as those suggested by Elisabeth Rosenthal on NPR News Hour.

Slide07

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  1. How much will this test/surgery/ exam cost?

An “I don’t know” or “It depends on your insurance” from the doctor is not an answer. The doc­tor should give you a ballpark range or the cash price at the center where he or she refers.

 

  1. How will this test/surgery/exam change my treatment?

If the answer is “It won’t, but it might be good to know,” take a pass.

 

  1. Which blood test are you ordering? What X-ray? Why?

When doctors order blood work, they are frequently just ticking off boxes on a long electronic check­list, with no awareness of how much any might cost. Your questions alone will make them more dis­criminating.

  1. Are there cheaper alternatives that are equally good, or nearly so?

If you go to a pharmacy or a lab and encounter a high price, call your doctor’s office and tell him or her about it. Force your doctor to learn. He or she likely didn’t know.

  1. Where will this test/surgery/exam be performed — at the hospital, at a surgery center or in the office — and how does the place impact the price?

Doctors often practice and do procedures in different places on different days of the week. If you go on a Thursday and that happens to be your doctor’s day at the hospital, it could double the price of your biopsy or colonoscopy. If he or she refers you to an ambulatory surgery center, ask, “Are you an owner?” A little shaming might encourage better behavior.

  1. Who else will be involved in my treatment? Will I be getting a separate bill from another provider? Can you recommend someone in my insurance network?

Avoid a lot of unexpected charges up front by making sure that whoever is involved in your care — doctor, physician assistant, pathologist, anesthesiologist — is in your insurer’s network.

Slide09

Here are some ideas for thinking national. Write your congressmen. Join small groups — or form them — to meet with congressmen. Write letters to the newspaper editor.

Slide10

The key talking point is: Ask them to support fair limits on Essential Benefits using the combination of cost-benefit research and public input, modeled after the Oregon Health Plan of 1994. It may surprise you that this research is already authorized in the Affordable Care Act at Section 6301. Tell Congress to retain or expand this provision.

Thank you for your interest in reforming the US healthcare system for ourselves and for future generations.

Stay involved. A lot is riding on it.

 

 

Segment 9 – The Big Fix for U.S. Healthcare

Segment 9 – The Big Fix for U.S. Healthcare

Slide14

 

This segment reviews the “Big Fix,” based on the idea of setting limits fairly. It describes the success of the Oregon Health Plan of 1994.

In the first 8 Episodes, we have reviewed the evolution of the US healthcare delivery system and insurance system. We have identified the relentless growth of healthcare spending as the root of the problem. And how rising costs are literally built into the system as it is now. Finally we have looked at American traditions and values that we all agree on, and we identified loaded political words and the seeming conflict between market justice and social justice that voters disagree on.

Slide04

Based on this understanding of the US healthcare system, we are now ready to look at what I’m calling the Big Fix. It is based on the idea of setting limits fairly. You’ll be surprised to know that it was already tried 20 years ago in Oregon. And it worked!

Slide06

 

So, let me tell you the story of the Oregon Health Plan. It all starts with a Roseburg Oregon emergency room doctor named John Kitzhaber. Half of his ER patients – as everywhere – were not real emergencies, just uninsured patients with no other place to get healthcare.

Slide07

So in 1989 when the Medicaid budget was being cut, he realized that many Medicaid patients would lose coverage, and would be flooding into his ER. Unless something was done.

He came up with an idea. Rather than keep the same level of benefits and cut patients, why not keep all the patients on Medicaid but limit their benefits? He formed a non-profit group to lobby for these low-income patients. This propelled him to the state senate and eventually to the governorship. He first created a list of 709 diagnosis-treatment pairs ranked by the dollar cost per life saved by each treatment (or “quality-adjusted-life-year”).

Slide08

But this produced some odd results, for example ranking lower-cost dental care above life-saving appendectomies. And so he next organized 60 town hall meetings to re-prioritize the list with common-sense consumer input. Actuaries then calculated the line (Line 581) above which the fixed Medicaid budget could cover all eligible patients. The final list gave priority to life-saving treatments such as antibiotics for pneumonia and appendectomy for appendicitis, as well as to proven effective treatments for heart disease and treatable cancers. It also included routine preventive care, maternal care, newborn care, well-child care and preventive dental care. Kidney dialysis was covered above the Line. The list did not cover conditions like remedies for the common cold that get better on their own, conditions where “home” treatment is effective like sprains, ineffective or futile care such as surgery for most back pains or aggressive treatment of end-stage cancer. For those terminal cancers, it did cover comfort care.

Here are the other main provisions of the Oregon Health Plan. By eliminating low-value health services, it was able to cover 100 percent of low-income citizens. The combination of sound research and consumer input gained it public acceptance.

Slide09

Here is the time line for the Oregon Health Plan. It actually took 5 years to gather public input and then to get necessary federal waivers approved.

Slide10

Here is a summary of the key successes of the Oregon Health Plan. Oregon was able to extend plan eligibility of those below federal poverty level from 57% to all 100%. This meant 100,000 more Oregonians on Medicaid. However 65,000 still did not enroll, presumably due to complicated enrollment procedures or copays up to $28. Total uninsured in Oregon did drop from 18% to 11%. Most importantly, Medicaid stayed within its budget. Medicaid physicians were paid on a par with others, resulting in robust doctor participation and 88% patient satisfaction.

Slide11

Let’s pause to consider a key question, Is it ethical to limit health benefits for low-income patients? Philosopher Paul Menzel (who I introduced in the last Segment) gives a resounding Yes. Here is his thinking. The right to prioritize healthcare services is especially important for lower-income patients. If they were given their Medicaid premium in the form of cash, many would spend only 33% of it on healthcare because they have more pressing needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Menzel also points out that these low-income patients would gladly accept a package of more restricted health services in exchange for first-dollar coverage. Lower-income patients live from paycheck to paycheck and don’t want the uncertainty of a large unexpected medical bill. Medicaid patients want healthcare insurance, but neither they – nor society at large – should pay more than it’s worth to them.

Slide12

In plain language, lower-income patients – and other savvy insurance buyers — need the real choice for a lower-cost package of limited health benefits that is “worth the money,” not just a menu of higher deductibles and copays but the same old package of exorbitantly costly, low-value care.

Please notice that this idea blends both market justice and social justice. It acknowledges that low-income patients are not entitled to everything, no matter what the cost. But it also provides for them a package that they – and society – think is costworthy. And does so with their consent freely given. Costworthy care is one of the key features of a fair health system, according to Menzel, as we saw in the last Segment, and consent is a key principle.

It is instructive to look at the fate of the Oregon Health Plan over the 8 years of its existence. Here is what happened. The legislature cut taxes. Healthcare costs rose with inflation. Oregon tried to get the poor to accept higher co-pays, but they could not afford them and so dropped out. Eventually these patients went back to traditional Medicaid or became uninsured again, spelling the end of the Oregon Health Plan.

Slide13

What are the lessons to be learned?

Slide14

First, limit-setting is politically feasible, ethically acceptable and pragmatically successful in controlling cost, access and quality.

Second, priority setting takes years to plan and years to implement.

Third, healthcare priority setting should be informed by cost-benefit research but driven by public participation, respecting minority rights and protection of the sick and vulnerable.

Fourth, two-tiered health benefits packages – one lower-cost and one higher-cost – is politically feasible and ethically acceptable (but so-called Essential Benefits should not arbitrarily cut entire categories of benefits like maternity care).

Fifth, sufficient primary care provider pay is needed to ensure doctor participation and patient access.

Sixth, sustaining healthcare system restraints and cost controls requires continual monitoring and periodic updating to keep up with new medical research and changing public values.

This is a critical point, because the casual observer might conclude that the Oregon Health Plan failed in 2002.

But I argue that the fact that the Plan was designed, politically adopted, implemented and sustained for 8 years proves the concept that limit setting can work, but also shows that something so big and so intricate needs ongoing political and administrative energy to sustain it.

Of course I have over-simplified the Oregon Health Plan. There are innumerable technical, legal, budgetary and administrative details involved.

Also, adopting a plan like Oregon’s today would need us to take into account 20 more years of research since then, with some very expensive but very effective treatments newly available. There are also many ethical nuances, such as should we budget for one patient needing a $100,000 treatment in place of 100 patients with $1,000 treatments, or vice-versa? But Oregon showed that all these issues can be managed in an orderly fashion.

I have also over-simplified that merely adopting the Oregon Health Plan cost-benefit method for limit setting would solve the entire cost problem. For example, many commentators have exposed the quirks of the US healthcare system that result in over-pricing, as discussed in Segment 5. That means that the same drugs, tests or treatments cost 2 to 10 times more in the US than in other countries. Those quirks should each be addressed in policies and regulations.

But the basic idea of fair limit setting – call it rationing, if you like – is the key, in my opinion. Limit setting would firmly challenge the common presumption that all healthcare is equally cost-worthy. It would put on notice the vested interests: if they play games with exorbitant pricing, they would ultimately lower their benefit-for-cost below the cut-off point, and drop themselves off the covered list altogether.

In the final Segment, I will talk about what each of us can do to promote health system reform and cost control.

I’ll see you then.

 

Congress Warns Against Medicaid Cuts: ‘You Just Wait for the Firestorm’

Image result for Congress Warns Against Medicaid Cuts: ‘You Just Wait for the Firestorm’

WASHINGTON — If President Trump allows states to convert Medicaid into a block grant with a limit on health care spending for low-income people, he will face a firestorm of opposition in Congress, House Democrats told the nation’s top health official on Tuesday.

The official, Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, endured more than four hours of bipartisan criticism over the president’s budget for 2020, which would substantially reduce projected spending on Medicaid, Medicare and biomedical research. Democrats, confronting Mr. Azar for the first time with a House majority, scorned most of the president’s proposals.

But few drew as much heat as Mr. Trump’s proposed overhaul of Medicaid. His budget envisions replacing the current open-ended federal commitment to the program with a lump sum of federal money for each state in the form of a block grant, a measure that would essentially cap payments and would not keep pace with rising health care costs.

Congress rejected a similar Republican plan in 2017, but in his testimony on Tuesday before the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Azar refused to rule out the possibility that he could grant waivers to states that wanted to move in that direction.

Under such waivers, Mr. Azar said, he could not guarantee that everyone now enrolled in Medicaid would keep that coverage.

“You couldn’t make that kind of commitment about any waiver,” Mr. Azar said. He acknowledged that the president’s budget would reduce the growth of Medicaid by $1.4 trillion in the coming decade.

Representative G. K. Butterfield, Democrat of North Carolina, said that “block-granting and capping Medicaid would endanger access to care for some of the most vulnerable people” in the country, like seniors, children and the disabled.

Mr. Trump provoked bipartisan opposition by declaring a national emergency to spend more money than Congress provided to build a wall along the southwestern border. If the president bypasses Congress and allows states to convert Medicaid to a block grant, Mr. Butterfield said, he could face even more of an outcry.

“You just wait for the firestorm this will create,” Mr. Butterfield said, noting that more than one-fifth of Americans — more than 70 million low-income people — depend on Medicaid.

As a candidate, Mr. Trump said he would not cut Medicare, but his new budget proposes to cut more than $800 billion from projected spending on the program for older Americans in the next 10 years. Mr. Azar said the proposals would not harm Medicare beneficiaries.

“I don’t believe any of the proposals will impact access to services,” Mr. Azar said. Indeed, he said, the cutbacks could be a boon to Medicare beneficiaries, reducing their out-of-pocket costs.

After meeting an annual deductible, beneficiaries typically pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for doctor’s services and some prescription drugs administered in doctor’s offices and outpatient hospital clinics.

Mr. Azar defended a budget proposal to impose work requirements on able-bodied adults enrolled in Medicaid. Arkansas began enforcing such requirements last year under a waiver granted by the Trump administration. Since then, at least 18,000 Arkansans have lost Medicaid coverage.

Mr. Azar said he did not know why they had been dropped from Medicaid. It is possible, he said, that some had found jobs providing health benefits.

Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, Democrat of Massachusetts, said it would be reckless to extend Medicaid work requirements to the entire country without knowing why people were falling off the rolls in Arkansas.

If you are receiving free coverage through Medicaid, Mr. Azar said, “it is not too much to ask that you engage in some kind of community engagement.”

Representative Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan, expressed deep concern about Mr. Trump’s proposal to cut the budget of the National Cancer Institute by $897 million, or 14.6 percent, to $5.2 billion.

Mr. Azar said the proposal was typical of the “tough choices” in Mr. Trump’s budget. He defended the cuts proposed for the National Cancer Institute, saying they were proportional to the cuts proposed for its parent agency, the National Institutes of Health.

The president’s budget would reduce funds for the N.I.H. as a whole by 12.6 percent, to $34.4 billion next year.

Mr. Azar was also pressed to justify Mr. Trump’s proposal to cut federal payments to hospitals serving large numbers of low-income patients. Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York, said the cuts, totaling $26 billion over 10 years, would be devastating to “safety net hospitals” in New York and other urban areas.

Mr. Azar said that the Affordable Care Act, by expanding coverage, was supposed to “get rid of uncompensated care” so there would be less need for the special payments.

While Democrats assailed the president’s budget, Mr. Azar relished the opportunity to attack Democrats’ proposals to establish a single-payer health care system billed as Medicare for all.

Those proposals could eliminate coverage provided to more than 20 million people through private Medicare Advantage plans and to more than 155 million people through employer-sponsored health plans, he said.

But Mr. Azar found himself on defense on another issue aside from the president’s budget: immigration. He said he was doing his best to care for migrant children who had illegally entered the United States, were separated from their parents and are being held in shelters for which his department is responsible.

He said he was not aware of the “zero tolerance” immigration policy before it was publicly announced in April 2018 by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. If he had known about the policy, Mr. Azar said, “I could have raised objections and concerns.”

Representative Anna G. Eshoo, Democrat of California and the chairwoman of the subcommittee, summarized the case against the president’s budget.

“The Trump administration,” she said, “has taken a hatchet to every part of our health care system, undermining the Affordable Care Act, proposing to fundamentally restructure Medicaid and slashing Medicare. This budget proposes to continue that sabotage.”

 

 

 

 

The “Medicare for All” Continuum: A New Comparison Tool for Congressional Health Bills Illustrates the Range of Reform Ideas

https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2019/medicare-all-continuum

Medicare for all paperwork

Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have called for “Medicare for All” as a way to expand health coverage and lower U.S. health care costs. Replacing most private insurance with a Medicare-like system for everyone has instilled both hope and fear across the country depending on people’s perspective or financial stake in the current health care system. But a closer look at recent congressional bills introduced by Democrats reveals a set of far more nuanced approaches to improving the nation’s health care system than the term Medicare for All suggests. To highlight these nuances, a new Commonwealth Fund interactive tool launched today illustrates the extent to which each of these reform bills would expand the public dimensions of our health insurance system, or those aspects regulated or run by state and federal government.1

The U.S Health Insurance System Is Both Public and Private

The U.S. health insurance system comprises both private (employer and individual market and marketplace plans) and public (Medicare and Medicaid) coverage sources, as the table below shows. In addition, both coverage sources are paid for by a mix of private and taxpayer-financed public dollars.

Most Americans get their insurance through employers, who either provide coverage through private insurers or self-insure. Employers and employees share the cost through premiums and cost-sharing such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. But the federal government significantly subsidizes employer coverage by excluding employer premium contributions from employees’ taxable income. In 2018 this subsidy amounted to $280 billion, the largest single tax expenditure.

About 27 million people are covered through regulated private plans sold in the individual market, including the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. This coverage is financed by premiums and cost-sharing paid by enrollees. The federal government subsidizes these costs for individuals with incomes under $48,560.

For 44 million people, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program is their primary source of coverage. These public programs are financed by federal and state governments, and small individual premium payments and cost-sharing in some states. In most states, these benefits are provided through private insurers.

Medicare covers 54 million people over age 65 and people with disabilities. The coverage is financed by the federal government along with individual premiums and significant cost-sharing. About 20 million people get their Medicare benefits through private Medicare Advantage plans and most beneficiaries either buy supplemental private insurance or qualify for additional coverage through Medicaid to help lower out-of-pocket costs and add long-term-care benefits.

Millions Still Uninsured or Underinsured, Health Care Costs High

The coverage expansions of the ACA — new regulation of private insurance such as requirements to cover preexisting conditions, subsidies for private coverage on the individual market, and expanded eligibility for Medicaid — lowered the number of uninsured people and made health coverage more affordable for many. But 28 million people remain uninsured and at least 44 million are underinsured. In addition, overall health care and prescription drug costs are much higher in the United States than in other wealthy countries. U.S. health care expenditures are projected to climb to nearly $6 trillion by 2027.

The Medicare for All Continuum

To address these problems, some Democrats running for president in 2020 are supporting Medicare for All. Meanwhile, in Congress, Democrats have introduced a handful of bills that might be characterized as falling along a continuum, with Medicare for All at one end.

As our new Commonwealth Fund interactive tool illustrates, the bills range from adding somewhat more public sector involvement into the system, to adding substantially more public sector involvement. The bills may be broadly grouped into three categories:

  • Adding public plan features to private insurance. These include increasing regulation of private plans such as requiring private insurers who participate in Medicare and Medicaid to offer health plans in the ACA marketplaces, and enhancing federal subsidies for marketplace coverage.
  • Giving people a choice of public plans alongside private plans. These bills include offering a Medicare-like public plan option through the marketplaces, extending that option to employers to offer to their employees, giving people ages 50 to 64 the option to buy in to Medicare, and giving states the option to allow people to buy in to Medicaid. These bills also bring the federal government’s leverage into provider rate-setting and prescription drug price negotiation.
  • Making public plans the primary source of coverage in the U.S. These are Medicare-for-All bills in which all residents are eligible for a public plan that resembles the current Medicare program, but isn’t necessarily the same Medicare program we have today. The bills vary by whether people would pay premiums and face cost-sharing, the degree to which they end current insurance programs and limit private insurance, how provider rates are set, whether global budgets are used for hospitals and nursing homes, and how long-term care is financed. All of the bills in this category allow people to purchase supplemental coverage for benefits not covered by the plan.

Looking Forward

Many Democratic candidates who have called for Medicare for All are cosponsors of more than one of these bills. The continuum of approaches suggests both the possibility of building toward a Medicare for All system over time, or adopting aspects of Medicare for All without the disruption that a major shift in coverage source might create for Americans. We will continue to update the tool as new bills are introduced or refined. Users also can view a comparison tool of other wealthy countries’ health systems, which shows where select countries fall on a continuum ranging from regulated systems of public and private coverage to national insurance programs.

 

 

Trump continues his war on Americans’ health care to pay for his tax cuts

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2019/03/11/467108/trumps-fy-2020-budget-exposes-false-promises-misplaced-priorities/

Image result for medicare cuts

After repeatedly trying and failing to repeal the ACA legislatively, President Trump and congressional Republicans have resorted to attacking and weakening the law through executive action, federal waivers to the states to undermine Medicaid expansion, and budget proposals to gut funding levels.

Once again, Trump’s budget proposes massive cuts—$777 billion over 10 years—from repealing the ACA and slashing Medicaid.

Like in his previous two budgets, Trump goes beyond these two measures to attack traditional Medicaid, seeking to restrict federal funding on a per-beneficiary basis or transition to block grant funding. Both of these things would lead to a significant decrease in federal funding and could cause millions of people to lose their health care coverage.

Like in last year’s budget, he encourages states to take Medicaid away from jobless and underemployed Americans, including laid-off workers, people who are going to school, and those who are taking care of children or family members. Medicaid is a lifeline for millions of Americans—including children, veterans, people with disabilities, and individuals affected by the opioid crisis. Tearing down this vital program will make it more difficult for people to access the health care they need to find work, including by preventing people with disabilities from accessing the long-term services and supports they need to participate in the labor market.

After he repeatedly promised to protect Medicare as a candidate, Trump makes changes to Medicare that would shrink the program by $845 billion over the coming decade.

 

 

 

Trump’s 2020 budget proposal: 5 healthcare takeaways

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/trump-s-2020-budget-proposal-5-healthcare-takeaways.html

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President Donald Trump released his $4.75 trillion budget for fiscal year 2020 on March 11. The proposal, titled “A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First,” calls for reductions to Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years and includes provisions related to drug pricing and many other health-related issues.

Below are five healthcare-related proposals in the president’s budget:

1. Discretionary funding for HHS. The budget requests $87.1 billion in discretionary spending for HHS, a 12 percent decrease from 2019 funding levels.

2. Efforts to curb HIV. Keeping with President Trump’s promise in his State of the Union address to end the spread of HIV in the U.S. over the next decade, the budget plan calls for HHS to receive $291 million next year to help curb the spread of the virus. A large portion of the funding — $140 million — would go to the CDC to improve diagnosis and testing for HIV in areas of the U.S. where the virus is continuing to infect people not getting proper treatment.

3. Broad overhaul of Medicaid. Under the budget, nearly $1.5 trillion would be cut from Medicaid over 10 years. However, the budget seeks $1.2 trillion over the next decade for block grants or per-person caps that would start in 2021, according to The Washington Post. The budget plan would also end funding for Medicaid expansion.

4. Medicare funding changes. Under the budget, Medicare spending would be reduced by an estimated $800 billion over 10 years. The budget would reduce the growth of various Medicare provider payments and includes changes aimed at addressing waste and abuse in healthcare and lowering drug prices, according to The Washington Post.

5. Medical research. The plan includes a proposal to cut $897 million from the National Cancer Institute’s budget and an additional $1 billion in cuts to other institutes that do medical research, according to Politico.

Read the full budget plan here.