Hospital Lobbying in 2018 By the Numbers

It’s always interesting to review where the big money is spent on lobbying. Today’s article in the Healthcare Dive (link at bottom of page) covered the an overview of hospital lobbying efforts highlight a few interesting issues (facts?):

  • The last lines point out that political rhetoric for “Medicare for All” seems to die after elections. Gavin Newsome in CA and the Illinois legislature has had a bill under study for two years without movement. The Medicare for All sounds like it’s not much more than a political ploy to help get politicians elected. We’ll have to see what becomes of the bills in the Washingon State legislature before putting the final nails in the coffin of this idea of Bernie Sanders. A question could be asked that if it’s that’s important to Sanders, is he involved in lobbying these states to implement it?
  • The 340B program, which has been a political hot potato, continues to be lobbied for by hospitals. There is much to criticize in this program, which supposedly provides direct subsidies to low income patients, but has been manipulated by both big Pharma (which wants to kill it) and hospitals (which has found ways to use it to make money for their bottom line). Yes, low income patients are getting drugs at a lower cost through this program but it leads one wondering if they could get even lower prices if the money was actually given to them directly, which was the original intent of the bill. We’re a long ways from that original intent, and even our hospital is profiting from the program, and finding further ways to incorporate it into future hospital planning.
  • It’s not all cynical lobbying though, as the hospital lobby fought hard against efforts to kill the ACA, helped support more funds for mental health care and much more.
  • Read the whole story at the following link.

https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/hospital-lobbying-in-2018-by-the-numbers/548262/

Democrats prepare to introduce “Medicare 50” – Washington Examiner

Whether or not this bill will get anywhere other than through the House, remains to be seen, but it will certainly help them heading into the elections next year. I’m sure it will be very popular with the base, while it angers and brings out the big guns of the AMA. Most physicians are not happy with Medicare reimbursement rates. I have been told by a number of providers that they cannot run an independent business on Medicare reimbursals. That’s one of the reasons the hospital has taken over almost all of our local providers. Not clear yet whether this will help those who can’t afford Obamacare, but are above Medicaid eligibility. But look for a program like this to reduce independent providers and force you into larger and larger hospital run facilities, for better or worse.

Read more here: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/daily-on-healthcare-democrats-prepare-to-introduce-medicare-50

Democrats are set a noon today to unveil a bill that would allow people to buy into Medicare beginning at age 50, even as the majority of the caucus in the House is onboard with rolling everyone into a government-run system. The bill signals that Democratic leaders are prepared to move forward more gradually on extending the government’s role in healthcare. Under the proposal, people would have the option of buying into Medicare instead of having private health insurance. The Medicare Buy In and Health Care Stabilization Act is being introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn. View livestream.


Hospital lobby ramps up ‘Medicare for all’ opposition – Healthcare Dive

We had an inkling that the Medicare for All would find heavy opposition quickly. Was debating a supporter on FB just yesterday saying essentially exactly what this article states. A day later, here we are. Want to state clearly here and now that I support getting the U.S. to a universal healthcare place, but I’m very dubious that Medicare for All is a way that will garner enough support. Why? Because the government has done a terrible job of reimbursing front line providers for their time. Many front line providers are not accepting Medicare patients, or new Medicare patients. Hospitals are subsidizing this cost by higher costs elsewhere. This has to be fixed before this idea will gain ground with providers. While it would be great to tear down the whole system and start fresh, that just is political rhetoric to get the base motivated to vote next year, a non starter in this current climate with Republicans controlling two branches of government. And we haven’t yet seen the money from the special interest groups show up in any large scale way.

The article points out that the AMA, PHrMa, American Health Insurance Plans, and the Federation of American Hospitals have come out against it, asking Congress to “fix what’s broken and improve what’s working, don’t start over”. My guess is that for a start, raising reimbursals for Primary Care would be a good place for Congress to begin, to slow the bleeding of funds from hospitals etc. In fact, the article points this out, from a document from the coalition of these providers, showing that “66% of hospitals received Medicare payments less than the cost of care, for an industry wide shortfall of $53.9 Billion dollars. Locally, I know that Jefferson Healthcare would be considered part of that amount. While the nurses union claims that hospital coffers have ‘swelled’ there is no truth in that here locally. Of course, we are a public hospital, but the ACA has helped our bottom line, allowing for JCH to better support primary care by hiring more providers, for example. While proponents are arguing that the reduction in administrative costs would help, there is no real understanding of whether these costs would be offset here locally.

Read the whole article for a better understanding. It brings the Koch Brothers into the picture for their efforts, along with the Nurses Union, etc.

Hospital lobbies are mounting a coordinated effort to dissuade legislators from supporting Medicare for all, a policy health systems argue would cut into profits and ultimately force facilities to shutter.

https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/hospital-lobby-ramps-up-medicare-for-all-opposition/547678/

2019 WA State of Reform Conference Speaker Presentations now available

On Thursday the 2019 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference was held, with what was billed as the most diverse convenings of health care executives and health policy leaders in the state.  If you have a special interest in some area of healthcare, you’ll likely find it listed here.

Here are some of the presentation materials from the speakers at the event.

https://stateofreform.com/news/states/washington/2019/01/speaker-presentations-now-available-from-2019-washington-state-of-reform-conference/

 

State’s low reimbursement rates for Medicaid put young patients at risk – The Columbian

While this is about Clark County, the issues raised here are exactly the same for Jefferson.
As stated in the articles left side panel on Facts:

Medicaid reimbursements for pediatric care in Washington decreased more than 35 percent in 2015, when a two-year federal provision to maintain Medicaid-Medicare equity ended.

Read the whole story and get the facts at

https://www.columbian.com/news/2018/dec/02/states-low-reimbursement-rates-for-medicaid-put-young-patients-at-risk/

 

 

In Jefferson County & need to sign up for ACA?

You have just this month and up to December 15th  to sign up or re-up for the ACA otherwise known as Obamacare. If you need help today or this week, call:

SeaMar:      Nicole Rivera Martinez at 253-280-9890 or NicoleRiveraMartinez@seamarchc.org

or

Kristin Manwaring Insurance (KMI) at (360) 385-4400

By next week, the Jefferson County Healthcare should be also up to speed on the software and signup process. We will give you updated information when it becomes available.

 

Trump administration freezes risk-adjustment payments – Modern Healthcare

The administration continues it’s battle to destroy protecting middle and low income folks from medical financial ruin continues.

The Trump administration is halting billions of dollars of payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act’s risk-adjustment program, a move that further disrupts the insurance market and could lead to more premium increases next year.

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20180708/NEWS/180709931?utm_source=modernhealthcare&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20180708-NEWS-180709931&utm_campaign=mh-alert