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This Week in Health Care Reform: November 16th, 2018

Campaigns aimed at protecting health care consumers from rising drug prices and the scheduled return of an onerous tax ramp up; insurers explore new frontiers; and, continuous patient engagement leads to improved outcomes.

Week in Review

Rx Price Campaign: Heading into next year, expectations are high that lawmakers will be able to do something to combat the rising cost of prescription drugs.  Already, we’ve seen a flurry of regulatory activity aimed at putting the issue center stage.  Now, a new advocacy push from a coalition of stakeholders from across the health care spectrum seeks to make sure it stays there.  Those efforts, being led by the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing (CSRxP), are focused on holding elected officials accountable for what was said on the campaign trail in the run-up to last week’s midterm elections and will feature ads from consumers reminding lawmakers to “keep their commitments.”

HIT Campaign: A separate campaign is ramping up to take aim at protecting consumers from the potential return of a burdensome tax.  As has been covered, the health insurance tax (HIT) is a fee levied against insurers that will only result in higher costs for families, seniors, and small businesses.  Over the summer, House lawmakers passed a measure that would extend the moratorium on the HIT through 2021 (the tax was already suspended for next year).  The Senate, however, has yet to take up a delay bill of its own.  Against that backdrop, the Stop the HIT Coalition announced this week that it was launching a nationwide campaign to mobilize stakeholders – namely, small businesses – in support of continued suspension of the HIT, which, according to recent analysis, could translate into immediate cost-savings of nearly $480 on average for hard-working families.

Insurers' Expanded Horizons: The transition to whole-person health continues to reshape our health care delivery model.  At its heart is the growing appreciation of the numerous environmental factors that influence our health and overall well-being.  Insurers have embraced this transition, weaving social determinants of health into their programmatic design, such as increasing access to healthy foods and providing transportation to medical appointments and pharmacies

Patient Engagement:
Providers have also recognized the importance of addressing social factors in seeking to improve health outcomes and have worked to better integrate this approach in their own evolving care delivery model.  In particular, physicians have focused on improving communications as a way to facilitate continuous engagement with patients in their own health.  Some of the ways in which providers have encouraged greater engagement include improving health literacy and utilizing available technologies more effectively in order to reach their patient populations more routinely.      

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