Health Brief: Freedom Caucus Chair Says Group Is in Final ACA Replacement Negotiations

Washington Brief

  • House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said the group is in “final negotiations” for a consensus plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Meadows said he has been in frequent conversation over the recess with Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), of the moderate Tuesday Group. (USA Today)
  • President Donald Trump said he would continue to press Republicans in Congress to revamp the health care system, even if it means delaying one of his other legislative items: Overhauling the tax code. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), an early endorser of Trump’s presidential campaign, is expected to resign from Congress to join the administration as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. (CBS News)

Business Brief

  • To address the need for doctors in rural and poor areas, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would increase the number of foreign physicians allowed to practice in the U.S. (Modern Healthcare)
  • As insurers mull whether to sell plans through Obamacare next year, they want a commitment from the Trump administration that they will continue to receive cost-sharing reduction subsidies. (Morning Consult)
  • The Food and Drug Administration warned Mylan that another one of its India-based drug manufacturing facilities violates quality standards, following a September site inspection. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Manhattan Institute event on “Yelp for Health” 12 p.m.
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Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows pursues health care deal with Speaker Ryan
Eliza Collins, USA Today

Rep. Mark Meadows intends to deliver an Obamacare repeal and replacement plan to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Tuesday that would leave in place the existing law’s mandates for insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions. “What I’m getting to him is based on conversations that I’ve had with (Tuesday Group co-chairman) Tom MacArthur and leadership, but I wouldn’t say that it’s approved at this point,” Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told USA TODAY. “What we’re trying to do is work through issues that are important to all of us but make sure that pre-existing conditions are taken care of.”

Trump Says Health-Care Revamp Still Priority Ahead of Tax Overhaul
Peter Nicholas and Richard Rubin, The Wall Street Journal

President Donald Trump said he would keep pressing to enact a health-care overhaul even if it means delaying another one of his policy goals: revamping the tax code. Last month, House Republicans conceded they didn’t have enough votes to pass their health-care bill, despite an aggressive lobbying effort by the White House.

Pennsylvania congressman to be named drug czar by Trump
Jacqueline Alemany et al., CBS News

Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino is expected to step down from his seat to take on a new role in the Trump administration. Multiple sources tell CBS News that Marino will head up the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), assuming the informal title of drug czar.

Forget Trumpcare 2.0, moderates want to try bipartisanship
Caitlin Owens, Axios

As conservatives pressure moderates to accept Trumpcare changes that would swing the bill to the right, some moderates are moving on to a new plan: Bipartisanship. As in, trying to create a coalition with moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats that could actually get something done.

The federal panel that opposed prostate cancer screening just changed its mind
Laurie McGinley, The Washington Post

An influential federal task force has dropped its controversial opposition to routine screening for prostate cancer and now says that men between the ages of 55 and 69 should discuss the test’s potential benefits and harms with their doctors and make decisions based on their own “values and preferences.” “The decision about whether to be screened for prostate cancer should be an individual one,” the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said in a draft recommendation issued Tuesday.

Automakers Spur Europe Stocks as Haven Dash Slows: Markets Wrap
Jeff Sutherland and V Ramakrishnan, Bloomberg News

European stocks advanced as Daimler AG’s results provided a dose of cheer to offset recent caution. Havens including gold and Treasuries steadied while oil gained on the prospect of an extension to production cuts.


Insurers Want Greater Certainty on Obamacare Subsidies
Mary Ellen McIntire, Morning Consult 

Health insurers want more certainty about whether the government plans to keep paying them subsidies in order to decide whether to participate in the individual market exchanges next year. In a statement provided to Morning Consult last week, the Department of Health and Human Services said it hasn’t changed the precedent that it would keep paying the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing reduction payments to health insurers while a lawsuit about the subsidies continues.

This Medicare Advantage startup isn’t doing so hot
Bob Herman, Axios

Clover Health has raised almost $300 million in venture capital funding, but so far, it isn’t providing any returns to its outside investors. Losses at the tech-based health insurance company, which only enrolls Medicare Advantage seniors, were seven times higher in 2016 than 2015 due to “higher-than-expected medical expenses,” according to Clover’s financial documents.


Bill looks to address dearth of underserved areas with foreign doctors
Steven Ross Johnson, Modern Healthcare

A bipartisan group of senators wants to address the need for doctors in rural and poor areas by increasing the number of foreign physicians allowed to practice in the U.S. This week, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) re-introduced legislation that would expand the number of physicians who could participate in the Conrad Waiver 30 program.

Healthcare’s new rural frontier
Anna Gorman, Politico

Just before dusk on an evening in early March, Mimi Rosenkrance set to work on her spacious cattle ranch to vaccinate a calf. But the mother cow quickly decided that just wasn’t going to happen.

Lawmakers want hearing aids to be easier to get, but doctors object
Victoria McGrane, The Boston Globe

Patricia Holland of Waltham suffered a panic attack during a vacation in Savannah, Ga., 13 years ago when she lost her hearing aid and had no way to quickly find a replacement. Almost two weeks later, when she finally got one, she teared up with joy even though she had to hand over $2,600.

Property Investors Venture Into Behavioral Health Facilities
Esther Fung, The Wall Street Journal

Care Capital Properties Inc., CCP +2.69% a health-care real-estate investment trust, is spending $400 million to purchase six behavioral health hospitals in California, Arizona and Illinois in a sale-leaseback transaction. The Chicago-based REIT is purchasing the hospitals from affiliates of Signature Healthcare Services LLC, which provides psychiatric services focused on behavioral health and substance abuse.

Weighing CON laws against price transparency
Maria Castellucci, Modern Healthcare

When New Hampshire last year became the first state in more than 15 years to eliminate its certificate-of-need laws, hospitals worried the loss would affect competition and revenues. CON laws are state mandates that govern the construction and development of healthcare facilities and services.

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

FDA warns Mylan over quality concerns at India facility
Natalie Grover, Reuters

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has raised concerns over quality controls at a Mylan NV manufacturing plant in India, according to a warning letter from the agency dated April 3. India-based drug manufacturing facilities have been criticized by the FDA in recent years for violating quality standards, as the agency increases oversight of key suppliers to the United States.

Risk factors for heart disease and stroke also tied to Alzheimer’s
Lisa Rapaport, Reuters

Middle-aged people with risk factors for heart attacks and stroke are also more likely to develop changes in the brain that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, a new study suggests. Previous research has linked so-called vascular risk factors, including obesity, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure, to higher odds of dementia, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Health IT

The VA’s mobile strategy: Balance access with security
Evan Sweeney, FierceHealthcare

Like most healthcare organizations, the Department of Veterans Affairs is treading carefully when it comes to balancing the integration of mobile devices with security and privacy considerations. Keeping up with the demand for mobile devices and new, innovative technology presents the biggest challenge for the nation’s largest integrated health system, said Don (DJ) Kachman, the VA’s director of mobile technologies and client security enterprise systems engineering, during an online chat hosted by Federal News Radio.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Drastic Cuts to NIH Would Hamper Progress in Finding Cures
Fred Upton and Diana DeGette, Morning Consult 

The National Institutes of Health is in the business of curing diseases. For more than a century, NIH scientists have improved American lives by making important discoveries that benefit public health.


Research Reports

2017 Healthcare Prognosis

The state of US healthcare delivery has certainly been top of mind in 2017. With so much potential change, we are frequently finding ourselves in discussions about how policy will change and impact our ecosystem.