Donald Trump’s healthcare plan is a “whipsaw of ideas” and an “incoherent mishmash that could jeopardize coverage for millions of newly insured people,” according to conservative health policy experts. Mr. Trump’s health care platform “resembles the efforts of a foreign student trying to learn health policy as a second language,” according to AEI’s Tom Miller. AEI’s Jim Capretta adds that replacing the ACA would require a “herculean effort, with clear direction and a clear vision of what would come next. I just don’t see that in Trump’s vague plans to repeal the law and replace it with something beautiful and great.” Trump must “discard some of his ideas, like the importation of prescription drugs, because they would be damaging and unworkable,” according to Grace-Marie Turner. “And he has to flesh out his other proposals with much more detail if he hopes to persuade voters that he has a credible plan to replace Obamacare.” Robert Laszewski, a former insurance executive, called Mr. Trump’s health care proposals “a jumbled hodgepodge of old Republican ideas, randomly selected, that don’t fit together.”
In January, CMS proposed overhauling the way it evaluates if and how much money ACOs are saving in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). Under the revised methodology, the agency would adjust cost benchmarks based on regional rather than national spending data when an ACO signs up for a second three-year contract period.
Of 434 ACOs participating in the program, only 22 have chosen to participate in tracks that include downside risk.
The Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design Model kicks off Jan. 1, 2017 and will run for five years.
Value-based insurance design, or VBID, refers to health plans that waive or lower out-of-pocket costs for healthcare and prescription drugs that are proven effective for patients with chronic health conditions.
The CMS wants feedback on ways to promote quality of care and reduce cost of care for enrollees in the Medicare Advantage program.
The Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, is one of the more notorious provisions of the Affordable Care Act because it is the perfect embodiment of belief in technocratic expertise. The IPAB’s 15 “expert” members would have great power and little accountability.
Since the law’s passage in 2010, opponents have successfully publicized the danger the IPAB poses to sensible Medicare policy and constitutional self-government, to the point that many in Congress now assume it will never go into effect. In June 2015, the House passed legislation to repeal the IPAB in its entirety.
And, yet, it is also clear that Congress’ attention is elsewhere. The slowdown in Medicare spending growth in recent years has made the IPAB less relevant – for now.
But IPAB’s demise is not a foregone conclusion, especially when Medicare spending growth accelerates again, as it almost inevitably will.
Instead of more federal regulation and subsidies, what U.S. health care needs is adoption of market principles, starting with broad empowerment of the patient-consumer. The proposals advanced in this volume would replace many counterproductive and outdated federal policies with practical, market-based reforms that aim to provide all Americans with access to high-quality health care at affordable prices.
Whether it is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) determining which treatments and technologies are worth covering and how much they are willing to reimburse for them; the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) mandating quality and safety standards; or the new Affordable Care Act exchanges setting the standard for benefit packages throughout the health insurance market, it is clear that government agencies and their mandates play a powerful role in guiding the provision of health benefits and the overall construct of the market.
James Capretta & Joseph Antos argue that one of the most consequential provisions of the Affordable Care Act is also one of its most obscure. The “productivity adjustment factor,” inserted by the ACA into the Medicare program, is a massive spending cut included to make room in the federal budget for the ACA’s expensive new health insurance subsidies. If Congress follows past practice, the ACA’s higher spending will be with us long after savings from the productivity adjustment factor have been reduced or eliminated altogether.
The Urban Institute’s Robert D. Reischauer and Brookings Senior Fellow Alice M. Rivlin highlight three main health care issues the candidates should focus on that are likely to dominate the election debate. Republicans must form consensus around a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act and Democrats must develop ways to improve the law. Both must focus on how to control rising health spending and how to preserve Medicare for the growing elderly population.
The brief’s key findings:
- The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) included roughly 165 provisions to improve Medicare’s finances.
- The Medicare Trustees Report, which reflects the ACA provisions, shows dramatically lower cost projections for Medicare in the future.
- The Medicare actuaries also produce alternative projections assuming that the legislated restraints on growth in payments to health providers are not feasible.
- A review of both sets of projections over the past six years shows that the gap between them is narrowing due to declines in the alternative cost projections.
- However, a significant gap still remains, which underscores the inherent uncertainty involved in long-range projections.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin is the president of the American Action Forum and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. He also served on President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. With the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces beginning their third open enrollment this week, RealClearHealth talked to Holtz-Eakin about what’s working, what’s not working, what can be done today to address problems with the law, and what should be on the agenda of a new administration in 2017.