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This Week in Health Care Reform - February 12th, 2016

Reading the tea leaves of the President’s final budget; the pharmaceutical industry looks to blunt criticism; and, stakeholders gird for battle in the upcoming effort to protect Medicare Advantage.


Week in Review

Budget Wish List: On Tuesday, the President unveiled his 2017 budget proposal.  At best, some view the proposed budget – the President’s final one in office – as an aspirational blueprint mapping out the allocation of government resources in pursuit of his priorities; at worst, the more cynical dismiss the proposal as nothing more than an attempt for the President to shore up his health care legacy before he leaves office.  Regardless of where you fall along that particular spectrum, others maintain that a careful consideration of the budget is more than just an exercise.  While the proposal does, on the surface, represent something of a wish list, the transparency that it has already injected into the process of its examination, or outright rejection, will, undoubtedly, result in the dialogue being forced in one direction or another.

Rx Counter-Narrative:
Given the amount of press coverage devoted to the disruptive impact that prescription drug prices have had on our health care system, it’s understandable that pharmaceutical manufacturers have been very careful in choosing when and how they respond.  Under constant barrage for the rising cost of prescription drugs, the industry now seems ready to tell their side of the story.  Whether or not their narrative finds any traction in the public arena remains to be seen.  In the meantime, a few entrepreneurs have taken a different tack, looking to fundamentally change the way drugs are purchased by bringing greater transparency to the process through the use of digital cost-comparison tools.

Protecting Medicare Advantage:
At a recent forum in Washington, hosted by the National Coalition on Health Care, stakeholders came together to discuss the importance of chronic care in Medicare Advantage.  Bringing different perspectives and experiences to the conversation, participants spoke of the need to overcome the policy and regulatory barriers that stand in the way of connecting the chronically ill in Medicare Advantage plans to the coordinated care that they so desperately need.  It’s well-established just how vital a role the popular Medicare Advantage program has come to play in the lives of 17 million American seniors and persons with disabilities.  That’s why nearly one-third of the entire Medicare population is enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.  With CMS expected to announce its annual proposed changes to the program’s funding structure next week, efforts are already underway to make sure the agency knows just how important Medicare Advantage is to the millions of enrollees who depend on the program’s coordinated model of care for their health needs.  Learn more about how you can help in the ongoing fight to protect Medicare Advantage and its beneficiaries.

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Looking Ahead

With the dust settling and the smoke clearing from the Iowa caucuses and, now, the New Hampshire primary, the field of candidates dwindles, while those still standing sharpen their elbows as the race to November heats up in earnest.

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