Good morning ... In a world where "Phantom Thread" is so criminally overlooked, this newsletter author still finds the silver lining: Roger Deakins and Jordan Peele winning well-deserved Oscars.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios
Health care companies will add tens of billions of dollars to their bottom lines this year thanks to savings from the Republican tax cut package. But only a tiny fraction of that money will benefit patients.
The details: My colleagues Bob Herman and Caitlin Owens dug through financial reports from 21 publicly traded health care companies. Collectively, those companies expect to gain $10 billion in tax savings in 2018 alone.
The bottom line: "Companies lower prices on shoes, phones, cars (comparatively or versus inflation) to get your business. Health care pricing doesn't work that way. So the natural pressure to use the tax code to lower pricing ... isn't there in health care," says Rodney Whitlock, a former GOP health policy aide.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images
Keep an eye on Arkansas today for some big indications of just how far the federal government is willing to let states go in tightening access to Medicaid. Seema Verma, who runs the federal Medicaid program, will be at the statehouse this morning alongside Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
What to watch: Verma is expected to announce that Arkansas will be allowed to add work requirements to its Medicaid program. That’s not a huge surprise — she’s already approved work requirements in two other states.
Threat level: Signing off on the lower eligibility threshold would push the limits of the administration’s legal authority on two fronts. These Medicaid waivers are supposed to further the goals of the Medicaid program, and the 138% eligibility level is written into federal law.
At the same time, it would send an even stronger message to red states that almost nothing is off the table in the campaign to chip away at the ACA.
The American Academy of Actuaries has weighed in to support the near-unanimous expert consensus against Idaho's move to let insurance companies sell policies that don't comply with the ACA.
Key quote: "Although offering state-based plans that can avoid ACA issue, rating, and benefit rules could provide lower-cost health insurance options to many Idaho residents, such options would lead to a deterioration of the state’s ACA market. As a result, ACA premiums would increase, and options for individuals with pre-existing conditions would narrow."
An increasing number of surgeries are being performed outside of hospitals, in outpatient surgical centers, and those facilities have gotten a lot of praise for offering lower prices than hospitals. But a lengthy investigation by Kaiser Health News finds that they’re often unsafe or ill-equipped to handle patients’ needs.
The other side: “There is nothing distinct or different about the surgery center model that makes the provision of health care any more dangerous than anywhere else,” Bill Prentice, chief executive of the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, tells KHN.
What we’re watching today: Federation of American Hospitals annual conference. Speakers include HHS secretary Alex Azar and Andrew Bremberg, director of the Domestic Policy Council.
What we’re watching this week: America’s Health Insurance Plans policy conference Wednesday and Thursday (agenda).
Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee hearing Thursday on the response to this especially bad flu season. Senior officials from the NIH, the FDA and the CDC will testify.
Senate health committee hearing Thursday on states’ solutions to the opioid crisis.
HIMSS, which works on health information technology, holds its policy conference in Las Vegas (details).
What's on your radar? I'm always happy to hear from you: simply respond to this email, or find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.