Jun. 21: Atul Gawande To Head Healthcare Joint Venture From Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, And JPMorgan Chase Posted on: June 21, 2018 By: admin Leading the News Atul Gawande To Head Healthcare Joint Venture From Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, And JPMorgan Chase. The Washington Post (6/20, Johnson) “Wonkblog” reports that Atul Gawande, the “renowned surgeon and best-selling author,” has been selected to lead a new joint venture from Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase that aims to cut healthcare costs. The unnamed Boston-based venture “has attracted widespread attention and…will be focused on using technology to make health care more transparent, affordable and simple for the more than one million employees who work for the three companies.” The New York Times (6/20, Hsu, Subscription Publication) reports that Gawande, “a practicing surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital” and “a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School,” will become the CEO of the company on July 9. Gawande said, “This work will take time but must be done. The system is broken, and better is possible.” USA Today (6/20, Brown) reports the CEOs of the three companies all praised Gawande. Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, said, “We said at the outset that the degree of difficulty is high and success is going to require an expert’s knowledge,” and Gawande has “an expert’s knowledge, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation,” which is what the company needs. Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said, “Talent and dedication were manifest among the many professionals we interviewed. Jamie, Jeff and I are confident that we have found in Atul the leader who will get this important job done.” Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said, “As employers and as leaders, addressing health care is one of the most important things we can do for our employees and their families, as well as for the communities where we all work and live. We’re so fortunate to have attracted such an extraordinary leader and innovator as Atul.” Legislation and Policy House Passes Bill Allowing Medicaid To Pay For Opioid, Cocaine Treatment In Certain Inpatient Facilities. The Hill (6/20, Roubein) reports “the House passed a bill on Wednesday allowing the Medicaid program to pay for opioid and cocaine addiction treatment in certain inpatient facilities, despite opposition from many Democrats.” The top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. “argued that the bill’s focus on just two drug addictions was too narrow,” and he “noted that it doesn’t tie federal dollars to improving community-based services, which he says is an important part of ensuring that people continue to receive the help they need.” ACA Supporters Worried New Rules Expanding Association Health Plans Further Threaten ACA. CBS News (6/20, Konrad) reports on its website that ACA supporters and advocates are worried recently issued rules expanding the use of association health plans “is a return to the bad old days before insurers had to adhere to standard regulations that protected consumers from paying insurance premiums, only to find coverage wasn’t there when they needed it.” The piece suggests that “the provision may encourage a new batch of healthier people who can get by with skimpier coverage to sign up for association plans instead of the ACA exchange plans,” an outcome that “could leave more sick people in the exchanges without the benefit of younger, healthier people balancing the risk pool. “ Massachusetts, New York To Challenge Trump Administration Decision To Expand Availability Of Health Plans That Do Not Comply With ACA. The Hill (6/20, Hellmann) reports Massachusetts and New York issued a joint statement, saying they will file a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for expanding the availability of “association health plans,” health insurance plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in the statement, “We will sue to safeguard the protections under the Affordable Care Act and ensure that all families and small businesses have access to quality, affordable health care. We believe the rule, as proposed, is unlawful and would lead to fewer critical consumer health protections.” Also covering the story are Congressional Quarterly (6/20, Clason, Subscription Publication), the Springfield (MA) Republican (6/20, Schoenberg), and the Washington Times (6/20, Howell). Maine Lawmakers Vote To Approve Medicaid Expansion Funding. The Portland (ME) Press Herald (6/20) reports “both houses of the Maine Legislature have voted to approve funding to extend Medicaid to an estimated 70,000 residents, potentially undercutting Gov. Paul LePage’s argument against implementing the voter-approved expansion.” Separately, “the state’s Supreme Judicial Court granted LePage’s request for a stay on a lower court’s order that would have required him to immediately submit a plan for an expansion to the federal government.” Kentucky Governor Calls For Congress To Repeal ACA. McClatchy (6/20, Clark) reports Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) visited Washington, DC to urge Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Bevin said, “Promises have been made and this is something the American people need and want. This is simply a function of asking our Congress to stand up to the very promises they made to the people of Kentucky.” Public Health and Private Healthcare Systems CMS Submits Ideas To Congress To Help Improve Care For Medicare, Medicaid Dual Eligibles. Modern Healthcare (6/20, Subscription Publication) reports “the CMS has submitted a series of legislative ideas to Congress they say would better coordinate care for people eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.” One “is to make permanent a demonstration on retroactive Medicare Part D coverage for low-income beneficiaries.” The CMS contends that “the pilot has both saved money and not imposed any burden on duals.” Navigator Groups Concerned About Future Funding. The Hill (6/20, Hellmann, Roubein) reports navigator groups, organizations that help people sign up for Medicaid and health plans sold on Affordable Care Act exchanges, are waiting to hear from the Trump Administration “about their annual federal funding, leaving many in limbo and fearing the grants could be too small or might not come at all.” The article explains that the Trump Administration changed the rules governing navigator groups, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said that the changes will give states “more flexibility to ensure that grant funding goes to the strongest applicants.” The article adds that when asked about funding for the organizations, “a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wrote in an email that HHS did not have any details to share at this time.” Expanded Access To Association Health Plans May Increase Insurance Fraud, Experts Say. Modern Healthcare (6/20, Meyer, Subscription Publication) reports experts are concerned that the Trump Administration’s new rule expanding access to association health plans (AHPs) “will lead to a spike in insurance fraud and insolvencies that plagued consumers and healthcare providers in the past.” For example, James Madara, MD, the CEO of the American Medical Association, said earlier this year, “Insolvent and sham AHPs would negatively impact patients, physicians and other providers by leaving them to cover the cost of services that should have been paid by the AHP.” Maryland Health Exchange Leaders To Hold Forum About Future Of Marketplace. The AP (6/21) reports that leaders of Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange are holding a regional forum Thursday where they will meet with state and local leaders to discuss how to strengthen the state’s health insurance marketplace. Nearly 154,000 Maryland residents enrolled in health plans for 2018, according to the article. Medica Proposes Increasing Premiums For Iowa Exchange Plans By Less Than Last Year. The Washington Examiner (6/20, Leonard) reports Iowa state officials said Medica has proposed increasing premiums for its exchange plans by less than 5.6%, compared to last year’s increases of more than 50%. Medica and Wellmark have both filed to sell exchange plans in all of the state’s counties. Wellmark Requests Premium Increases For Grandfathered Non-ACA Plans. The Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette (6/20, Ramm) reports Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield “asked the Iowa Insurance Division…for approval for rate increases for its grandfathered plans.” The insurer “requested increases ranging from 5.3 percent to 11 percent, depending on the plan,” for next year. Las Vegas Chamber Of Commerce Looking To Offer Association Health Plans For Members. The Las Vegas Review-Journal (6/20, Bekker) reports the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce “released a statement Tuesday saying it would like to re-establish an association health plan for its members, something it offered for 30 years prior to passage of the ACA.” The news came after the Administration “announced a rule that would allow small businesses or associated groups to band together to purchase…association health plans,” which had become “largely irrelevant under the ACA’s community rating restriction.” Uninsured Indiana Faces Lower Rates Of Health Coverage Than States Which Do Not Impose Same Costs, Studies Suggest. The Los Angeles Times (6/20, Levey) reports that an independent study of Indiana identified lower rates of health coverage in the state than in neighboring states that do not impose the same costs. In addition, “a second study of the state found that low-income Indiana residents have more problems paying medical bills and are more likely to delay care because of cost than in neighboring Ohio, which does not impose the same cost-sharing requirements.” The Times says Indiana’s model is one that is championed by Trump and conservatives, and says research suggests the approach would make healthcare less affordable.