The Weekly Insight – July 3

03rd Jul 2017

This Week in Review

Last Week from Texas Insight

  • Health Care Price Transparency in Texas: Lack of price transparency is commonly touted as a contributor of high health care costs, as it prevents consumers from comparison shopping for medical procedures and treatment. More than half of all Americans report having tried to get price information before receiving care. Many providers and facilities have not been able or willing to give patients specific answers when they ask what procedures will cost. Health economists often point out that the fundamental nature of price as a motivator of consumer behavior is subverted in health care markets, which is particularly unfortunate, as these costs are significant and growing much faster than other goods, services, and the economy as a whole.

  • Health and Human Services Commission: Autism Council:  The Texas Autism Council met to receive information on services offered through the HHS enterprise. The Council is relatively newly formed and there was not a lot of member discussion. They received information and asked questions.

  • HHSC: Community First Choice Stakeholder Meeting: HHSC held a stakeholder meeting designed to receive input into the Community First Choice (CFC) Personal Assistance Services/Habilitation (PAS/HAB) form and instructions. Public comments were taken.

Healthcare Policy News

  • The big news this week is the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the Senate Healthcare Bill. Under the plan, approximately 22 million people will lose health insurance in the next ten years – 15 million of those people would be losing Medicaid coverage. NPR reviews all winners and losers of the bill.
  • The Senate is asking the Congressional Budget Office to score Sen. Ted Cruz’s proposed changes. Cruz, who has said that he cannot vote for the Senate Republicans’ healthcare bill in its current form, proposed an amendment to the measure this week that would allow health insurers to sell plans that do not meet the standards required by the Affordable Care Act.

  • The Senate healthcare bill has not helped popularity of the GOP repeal and replace efforts. The majority of Americans disapprove of the proposed plans.

  • Warren Buffett is attacking the Republican Party’s plans to repeal and replace ObamaCare, claiming bills in the House and Senate would provide tax cuts for the rich. Legislation passed by the House, he said, should be called “Relief for the Rich Act.”

  • At least one GOP Senator is “pretty sure” Trump doesn’t understand the basics of the GOP healthcare bill.

  • Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said on Wednesday that maternity leave can’t be cut from the Senate GOP’s bill to repeal ObamaCare because men are involved in the process, too. Speaking to reporters in the Capitol, Cassidy warned against healthcare plans that don’t include benefits like maternity leave and prenatal care. “You end up with policies that don’t cover maternity. And as best I can tell, women don’t get pregnant without sperm.”

  • Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is already looking past repeal and replace; in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Sanders said “Medicare for all” will be on the Senate agenda once repeal and replace fails.

  • The Senate healthcare bill will include $45 billion to fight opioid abuse, but experts say that is much too little.

  • STAT News asked public health experts to forecast how the opioid epidemic will effect Americans over the next decade; they estimated that the crisis will cause approximately 500K deaths.

  • The House passed legislation on Wednesday to limit damages from medical malpractice lawsuits. The bill would cap noneconomic damages, such as emotional suffering, to $250,000. The provisions would apply to healthcare lawsuits where coverage was provided or subsidized by the federal government.

  • Texas nursing homes beware: The state’s tolerance for mistakes is dropping fast. In September, a new state law takes effect that will make it more difficult for long-term care facilities cited for repeat violations to avoid hefty fines from regulators.