Good morning ... Philly readers: Former Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, along with Sean Parker, are joining our Mike Allen Wednesday to discuss the future of cancer care, and you're invited. Mike will also explore this topic with Celgene Corporation CEO Mark Alles, cancer survivor and advocate Stefanie Joho, and Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee, deputy director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. RSVP here.
Democrats have wanted for years to expand the Affordable Care Act's premium subsidies. But it took President Trump — and a desire to harm the law — to actually make it happen, as my colleague Caitlin Owens notes this morning.
Trump's decision to end the law's cost-sharing reduction payments prompted insurers to raise their premiums, which in turn raised premium subsidies. That's bad news for the millions of unsubsidized consumers, but good news for the millions of lower-income enrollees who can now find a range of plans with a $0 monthly premium.
Flashback: The irony of all this is that Democrats — including Hillary Clinton — have consistently pushed for increased premium subsidies, albeit in a much more straightforward way. (And of course they also want the government to continue the payments Trump cut off.)
Yes, but: "We could spend that extra money we are shelling out today to pay for the excess premiums far more efficiently and get more people covered more affordably," Jennings said.
My colleague Bob Herman reports that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services responded to critics in its final physician payment rule for 2018 by saying the agency is "not relinquishing our obligation to independently establish" physician payment rates. CMS previously said it would rely almost entirely on a secretive panel of doctors convened by the American Medical Association to determine Medicare payments.
The bottom line: CMS clearly wanted to address the "concern and disappointment" of the health policy community, according to the rule, and said it will consult with other independent sources outside of the AMA's Relative Value Scale Update Committee, or RUC.
Yes, but: The RUC, a group with little public oversight that is tilted toward specialty physicians, is expected to still wield substantial influence over how Medicare rates are developed.
Medicaid insurers in California made more than $5 billion in profits from 2014 to 2016 — and more than all Medicaid insurers combined in 34 other states last year, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Be smart: Most of the country now relies on private insurers to administer Medicaid coverage. Insurers in other states may not see the same outsized profits they've seen in California, but this is nevertheless a big line of business for the industry overall.
My colleague Alexi McCammond has a first look this morning at a new Democratic effort to register and mobilize 1 million "health care voters" ahead of next year's midterms. The yearlong, "must-million dollar" campaign is being sponsored by the Health Care Voter campaign, a coalition of more than 30 progressive organizations formed this summer to turn the 2018 midterms into a referendum on health care.
Why it matters: The campaign is starting one year from the midterms as a way to encourage voter turnout among Democrats, keep health care as a top voting issue, and to target Republicans on their repeal-and-replace efforts. The group's main challenge: Democratic turnout tends to drop during midterms, and they'll only succeed if they can buck the trend.
What we're watching today: National Press Club lunch with Veterans Affairs administrator David Shulkin (12:30pm ET, details here).
What we're watching this week: House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee hearing Wednesday on "MACRA and Alternative Payment Models: Developing Options for Value-based Care."
Get in touch: I welcome your tips, comments and questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.