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This Week in Health Care Reform - March 27th, 2015

The push to preserve Medicare Advantage from further cuts enters the final stretch; the divisive health care law celebrates its latest milestone; the Supreme Court ruling continues to lurk in the wings; and, health IT promises to reshape health care.


Week in Review

Fighting for MA: As has been covered, Medicare Advantage finds itself, once again, on the chopping block.  Despite having proven itself to not only be more effective than traditional Medicare, but way more popular with beneficiaries, too, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are looking to continue the pattern of cuts that, in recent years, have only led to the slow degradation of the program, further disrupting the care that millions of enrollees depend on.  Luckily, they’re not alone.  Across the map, lawmakers from both parties have stood up on behalf of Medicare Advantage, urging CMS to preserve the program and protect its beneficiaries.  Some have penned Op-Eds, like Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-Minnesota) and Scott Peters (D-California), as well as, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Patrick Murphy (D-Florida), who’ve joined together, reaching across the aisle to shine the light of public opinion on the issue.  And, Health Action Network members have also rallied around the program, sending thousands of messages to federal elected officials asking them to continue to support Medicare Advantage and its beneficiaries.  If you haven’t already, be sure to take action, while there’s still time. 

5th Anniversary:
This week marked the 5th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law.  For some, the milestone was cause for celebration, while for others, the occasion provided the perfect backdrop to draw attention to the law’s flaws.  Despite polling showing a gradual narrowing of the opinion gap regarding the Affordable Care Act, it’s clear that, five years later, there’s still no end to the debate.  What’s less clear, however, is where exactly the law goes from here.

Supreme Court Shadow:
Having heard the arguments in the King v. Burwell case earlier this month challenging the tax subsidies extended to consumers on the federal health exchange marketplace, uncertainty continues to mount regarding the Supreme Court’s decision.  While what the Court may ultimately decide is anyone’s guess, what’s becoming more knowable is how and where that decision could have the greatest impact.  For their part, Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate included fallback plans in their budget proposals for 2016; whether or not either represents any kind of real solution, it’s hard to argue that the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Health IT Potential:
Health care, its delivery, access, and reform, have all occupied a prominent space on the national stage these past few years.  As our collective comfort and literacy with these issues continues to grow, it’s increasingly difficult to deny the promise that technology offers in advancing health care on all these fronts.  A new study puts a pricetag on how much the application of digital to one aspect of health care could save the system.  Prepared by nonprofit alliance, CAQH, their report estimates $8 billion in potential health care savings by transitioning to fully electronic business transactions between providers and plans.  Taken a step further, it’s not hard to imagine similar efficiencies being realized across the health care delivery spectrum.

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We encourage you to stay involved as implementation efforts surrounding health care reform progress.  Visit the Health Action Network and be sure to let us know what's on your mind.


Looking Ahead

CMS is expected to finalize its decision regarding changes to the popular Medicare Advantage program on Monday, April 6th.  Until then, there’s still time to add your voice to the efforts to preserve the program and protect the 16 million American seniors and persons with disabilities that depend on it. 

You can keep up with the latest by following the Health Action Network on Twitter and by liking us on Facebook.