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The House's tax reform bill, set to be released this morning, will not try to repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, my colleague Jonathan Swan reports. The big question now is whether GOP leaders on Capitol Hill can keep that idea off the table, despite a push from conservatives and an endorsement yesterday from President Trump.
Why it's out:
How the idea could come back:
The bottom line: This would be a huge risk, with a lot on the line. And GOP leaders know it.
Almost half the country doesn't realize that switching to single payer would require them to change their health care plan, Kaiser Family Foundation president Drew Altman notes in his latest Axios column.
Why it matters: As we all learned very recently from the ACA, people are not happy when they have to switch health plans — and it's not easy to persuade them that they're getting a better deal. Being forced to change is a problem in and of itself. Single payer polls pretty well, but that's in part because it's still a relatively vague concept for a lot of people and its trade-offs haven't gotten a serious public airing (yet).
Be smart: This is one big reason to think that if any form of single payer is ultimately realistic, it'll likely begin with some sort of optional buy-in — not just as a political compromise, but to avoid a sudden upheaval of the entire system.
Pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers are terrified about the prospect of Amazon getting into their business. But pharmaceutical companies are all for it, CNBC reports.
Between the lines: Drug companies are especially frustrated with pharmacy benefit managers, which function as intermediaries between manufacturers and pharmacies. Pharma companies complain that PBMs mark up their products without disclosing those costs, and cutting into PBMs' slice of the pie is pharma's preferred solution to the controversy over high drug prices.
In case you missed the Trump administration's 1,133-page final rule about 2018 Medicare outpatient payments, Axios' Bob Herman has you covered for the big policy changes:
Hospitals are suing the feds for finalizing a policy that would drastically cut how much they are paid under the 340B drug discount program. Read more here.Total knee replacements no longer need to be performed exclusively in a hospital. This will save Medicare a lot of money and route more money into ambulatory surgery centers.Total Medicare outpatient payments will going up by 1.35% next year, down from the proposed 1.75%.
President Trump's opioid commission has finalized its recommendations for combatting the epidemic, but sidestepped one of the most critical issues: money.
The panel's final report, released yesterday, is 138 pages long and includes 56 specific recommendations. It says the executive branch should better coordinate federally funded programs, but doesn't ask Congress for any new funding.
Here's what the commission recommends:
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission is meeting today in D.C., and Bob reports the group will focus on major physician payment policies in two important sessions today.
Why it matters: MedPAC doesn't create laws or mandate policies. But the independent group's recommendations to Congress carry a lot of weight. These two issues, in particular, are important because Medicare spends more than $130 billion on physician services every year.
What we're watching today: MedPAC meeting. Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on federal oversight of dangerous pathogens (10:45am ET, details and livestream here).
What we're watching this week: Brookings event Friday on policy answers to the opioid crisis.