Today’s Must-Read Stories in Medicare

Trump repeal Obamacare

Week ahead: Trump puts pressure on lawmakers to repeal ObamaCare mandate

BY PETER SULLIVAN: The GOP debate over how to repeal ObamaCare is poised to heat up once again.

Republicans are divided over including a provision to repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate as part of their sweeping tax reform bill, unveiled on Thursday.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said Friday that lawmakers are considering the move, which is being pushed by President Trump and others, but also expressed strong caution.

“There are pros and cons to this,” Brady said at an event Friday hosted by Politico. “Importing health care into a tax reform debate has consequences.”

Brady and others have voiced concerns that reopening the contentious ObamaCare debate could sing tax reform, a top GOP priority.

The Ways and Means Committee will begin its markup of the tax bill on Monday, which will be a chance for lawmakers to offer amendments. (read more)

Trump takes on hospitals: the facts behind fight over 340B drug discounts

BY CASEY ROSS: There’s at least one unassailable fact in the battle over the federal 340B drug discount program: $1.6 billion is a lot of money.

That’s how much so-called safety net hospitals will lose from a Trump administration policy, announced last week, to slash reimbursement to providers in the 25-year-old program.

But other facts about the program are muddy. Supporters say the payments help pay for care of poor patients, and that without them more hospitals will shutter. Various hospital groups are now suing to stop the change from taking place on Jan. 1. Detractors, on the other hand, say the program is being abused by some hospitals that use it to increase their profits and market power. (read more)

Trending News Today: CHIP Funding Bill Approved in the House

BY LAURIE TOICH: House Republicans are considering repealing an Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision through tax overhaul, according to The New York Times. The House Ways and Means Committee plans to begin working on overhauling the tax code this week, with hopes of a vote before Thanksgiving. Despite the consistent GOP push to repeal the mandate, this effort may be problematic since previous efforts to repeal the ACA have failed, according to the Times.

While some have speculated that the potential merger of CVS and Aetna is related to Amazon potentially entering the pharmacy business, industry experts have suggested that the threat from UnitedHealth Group may also play a role, according to California Healthline. UnitedHealth has reach from insurance to pharmacy benefit management, in addition to owning clinics, surgery centers, and medical practices, according to the article. The large reach protects UnitedHealth from significant financial hits in any of its specific sectors, which may be desirable for CVS and Aetna. (read more)

Tax Reform: A Back Door To Killing Health Care, Medicare, And More

BY JUDY STONE: Having failed at directly destroying health care through repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Republicans in the House are trying again by doing an end run in their tax reform bill. There are so many evil provisions, it’s hard to know where to begin.

First, note that the party of “fiscal conservatism” is trying to pass a bill with a $1.5 trillion deficit in a way to require only a simple majority in the Senate, bypassing the need for any semblance of bipartisanship. In fact, the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, says the true cost of the deficit increase will be $2.4 trillion over ten years. So the first bit of sleight of hand will require reimagining the real figure downward to reach the “acceptable” $1.5 trillion.

Unsurprisingly, the tax bill includes large tax cuts for the top 1% and for corporations—the “people” who count—again hurting the bulk of Americans. But that’s what this administration has been all about since Day One. Once again, the GOP is planning their tax reform without a hint of bipartisanship, behind closed doors, with zero public hearings or debate. Here’s the skinny on how the proposed tax bill will hurt us. (read more)

CMS Finalizes 2018 Hospital, Physician Medicare Reimbursement

BY JACQUELINE BELLIVEAU: In a series of final rules released earlier this month, CMS updated and modified Medicare reimbursement rates for hospitals and physicians in 2018.

The rules aim to “reflect a broader Administration-wide strategy to create a healthcare system that results in better accessibility, quality, affordability, empowerment, and innovation,” the federal agency stated.


The final rule for the 2018 Medicare Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) detailed an increase in hospital payments rates next year, as well as significant changes to the 340B Drug Pricing Program and rural hospital supervision requirements. (read more)

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