Trump to issue executive order aimed at strengthening Medicare

Administration officials said President Donald Trump would announce an executive order aimed at strengthening the Medicare program during a visit to a Florida retirement community Thursday. The executive order will encourage Medicare to increase use of telehealth services to reduce health care costs, direct government agencies to enable new plan pricing tools to incentivize high-value care in Medicare Advantage and align payments for traditional Medicare with those for MA plans, sources said.

Reuters (10/3)

Drug Cost Relief for Senior (?)

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Senators working on bipartisan plan to cut seniors’ Medicare drug costs

Senators working on bipartisan plan to cut seniors' Medicare drug costs
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he is working with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on a bipartisan plan to limit seniors’ out-of-pocket spending on prescription medications in Medicare. The senators are reportedly exploring drug pricing changes in Medicaid and Medicare Part D and Part B.

The Hill (5/8)

Government Healthcare (?)

Analysis Shows Single-Payer Health System Would be Messy
The highly anticipated analysis released yesterday by a nonpartisan organization on Medicare-for-all told us this much: transitioning the United States to a single-payer health-care system would be messy. Very messy.
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Medicare Advantage payments to increase 2.53% in 2020

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will raise average payments to Medicare Advantage plans by 2.53% in 2020, higher than the 1.59% hike initially proposed by the agency. The agency will also give MA plans greater flexibility starting next year to offer supplemental benefits to help address social determinants of health for people with chronic conditions.

Healthcare Finance (4/1),  Reuters (4/1),  HealthLeaders Media (4/1)


"Medicare for all" could lead to permanent doctor shortage, Verma says
(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the “Medicare for all” idea being pushed by some Democrats would decimate doctor networks and create a permanent physician shortage because the program doesn’t cover full health care provider costs. “Under ‘Medicare for all,’ you either take private insurance away from those 170 million Americans, or greatly restrict access to it, meaning there is no relief valve for physicians facing up to 40% payment cuts,” Verma told attendees at AHIP’s Medicare conference in Washington.

Kaiser Health News (10/16),  Modern Healthcare (tiered subscription model) (10/16)

Association Health Plans Coming

Thinking About An Association Health Plan?
If you own a restaurant, plumbing company or other small business, you may be intrigued by the expected expansion of association health plans under a new rule that got a stamp of approval from the Trump administration last week.
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ACA provisions are unconstitutional, Justice Dept. says

ACA provisions are unconstitutional, Justice Dept. says
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Legislation that repealed the penalty associated with the requirement that most Americans enroll in health coverage has made the mandate unconstitutional, the Justice Department wrote in a brief filed at a Texas court Thursday. The tax law passed last year also nullifies the Affordable Care Act’s provisions that prevent coverage denials for people with pre-existing conditions and block insurers from charging people in the same community different rates depending on their health status, age, gender and other factors.

Reuters (6/7)

The OIG Looks at Drug Pricing

HHS inspector general to examine drug price issues

The HHS Office of Inspector General plans to examine a variety of issues related to drug prices and potential waste of medicines. Among the issues the OIG will address are unexplained price jumps, use of wasteful single vials for cancer treatments, tying rebates under Medicare Part D to inflation, and billing practices for compounded topical treatments.

STAT (11/10)

Medicare Benefits – Premium Increases?

CMS acts to stem Medicare premium increases

CMS takes action to stem Medicare premium increases.
(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
The one-third of Medicare beneficiaries not covered by the “hold-harmless” provision will see a lower premium increase than originally projected, with consumers paying 10% in 2017, compared with projections of as much as 22% more. The CMS announced Thursday it would tap Medicare Part B program reserves to bring down premiums for those whose increases are not tied to Social Security cost of living adjustments.

The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (11/10)