Good morning ... Situational awareness: The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has delayed a hearing on Ronny Jackson’s nomination for VA secretary amid “concerns about his qualifications and oversight of the White House medical staff,” per the Washington Post.
More than 3 million seniors are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that is owned by a hospital system or physician group — an increase of more than 20% since 2015, according to an Axios analysis of federal data.
The big picture: Medicare Advantage is increasingly popular, and providers want to get in on the action as they watch other revenue streams stagnate.
The numbers: Axios’ Bob Herman used federal data to track Medicare Advantage enrollment growth for 43 hospital systems and physician groups.
Between the lines: Overall enrollment in Medicare Advantage outpaced enrollment in provider-owned plans. Most of the program’s enrollment growth still belongs to traditional powerhouses like Humana and UnitedHealth Group.
Money is getting tighter at not-for-profit hospitals, based on new numbers from the ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service. The median operating cash flow margin — or hospitals' profit margin before factoring in variables like depreciation — was 8.1% in 2017.
Why it matters: That profit measure “fell below levels seen during the 2008–09 recession,” Moody’s said in a report.
Why it's happening: Hospitals are spending a ton on new hires and new technology. More patients have government insurance, which pays less than job-based insurance. And more services are being delivered on an outpatient basis.
Yes, but: As Bob reported late last year, hospitals are still doing quite well overall as they merge into bigger conglomerates and cash in their Wall Street investments.
Coming soon to a congressional hearing near you, some new numbers from the Associated Press:
How it works, per AP: "Redfield is being paid under a salary program called Title 42, which was established to attract health scientists with rare and critical skills to government work."
Why you'll hear about this again: If Democrats are ever in a position to conduct oversight hearings — say, if they win the House majority — the use of taxpayer funds is a ready-made topic.
The Trump administration's plan to expand access to short-term health plans will likely weaken the Affordable Care Act by pulling health people out of ACA coverage.
Between the lines: A new brief by the Kaiser Family Foundation looks at benefits covered by short-term plans in major cities in each state. Here are some national averages:
Why it matters: Enrollees who opt for a short-term plan, but then get pregnant or need an expensive prescription drug, could find themselves on the hook for some very expensive medical bills.
A group of hackers has apparently been targeting health care companies since 2015 — and the hackers are looking for corporate secrets, not sensitive personal data. Cybersecurity firm Symantec believes this group of hackers has hit 100 targets since 2015, including a couple dozen this year, Axios’ Joe Uchill reports.
The details: "It's not often we come across this kind of campaign being used for corporate espionage," Vikram Thakur, Symantec technical director, told Axios.
Even a lot of Republicans don't want to cut Medicaid, at least according to a new survey from Public Policy Polling and Protect Our Care.
The numbers, from PPP:
Quick take: This is a PPP poll from a pro-ACA advocacy group, and that's the best context to understand its relevance. Whatever Republicans might think about Medicaid, health care is a big energizer on the left — and 2018 is all about Democratic turnout.
What we're watching today: The Senate HELP committee marks up its big opioids bill at 10am.
What we're watching this week: Senate homeland security panel hearing Thursday on HHS' efforts to combat human trafficking. House Ways and Means Committee hearing Thursday on innovation in health care.
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