Welcome to this week's edition of the The Partnership to Empower Physician-Led Care weekly newsletter, which includes news from our members, legislative and Administration updates, news clips, and studies about value-based care, primary care, and independent physicians.
HHS: (3/22) - HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra published a statement on the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, highlighting how the law has saved lives, brought down health care costs, and expanded Medicaid and coverage to millions of Americans. He also highlighted how the American Rescue Plan will continue to build on these successes.
HHS: (3/22) - HHS announced additional Biden Administration appointments on March 22. These appointees will continue to build on efforts to address COVID-19, implement the American Rescue Plan, ensure Americans have access to quality, affordable health care, and strengthen support for seniors and vulnerable populations.
AHRQ: (3/18) - HHS issued an analysis examining three hypothetical COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans. The analysis found that distributing the vaccine by age would simplify the process but slow vaccine eligibility across poverty levels and across race and ethnicity. An alternative approach that granted relatively high priority to most essential workers and adults age 65 and older would result in quicker vaccine eligibility among adults in higher-income families and White adults than among adults living in poverty or racial and ethnic minorities. In another scenario, prioritizing adults at increased risk of severe COVID-19 ahead of non-healthcare high-priority occupation groups would increase access to the vaccine among Black adults and adults living in poverty, but would delay eligibility of some workers who have increased risk of exposure and increased risk of transmission to others.
HHS: (3/17) - HHS announced a $10 billion investment from the American Rescue Plan to ramp up screening testing to help schools reopen, and $2.25 billion to scale up testing in underserved populations, and provide new guidance on asymptomatic screening testing in schools, workplaces, and congregate settings.CDC Press release
Washington Post: (3/23) - The Senate voted 57-43 to confirm Vivek Murthy as the United States Surgeon General. All 50 Senate Democrats voted to support Murthy’s nomination, as did seven Republicans.
Medicare for All Act: (3/17) - Rep. Jayapal (D-WA) and 112 cosponsors introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2021 (H.R. 1976), which would establish an improved Medicare for All national health insurance program.
On March 23, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health held a legislative hearing entitled “Building on the ACA: Legislation to Expand Health Coverage and Lower Costs.” The hearing was held to discuss 18 legislative proposals being considered to build on the progress of the Affordable Care Act by expanding access to quality, affordable health care.
PEPC submitted testimony for the record for the hearing, highlighting how a key way to build on the ACA over the coming months and years is by affirming the ACA’s commitment to value-based payment and delivery system models.
AAFP: (3/23) - AAFP submitted joint testimony for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Health Subcommittee hearing on building on the Affordable Care Act. The letter called upon the Committee to pass the Kids Access to Primary Care Act (H.R. 1025) to raise Medicaid payment rates for primary care services to at least Medicare levels.
Medical Economics: (3/22) - The National Resident Matching Program has matched a record number of graduating medical students with residency programs in internal and family medicine. Data from the American College of Physicians showed that 437 primary care positions, or 99.1 percent, were filled in the 2021 match. AAFP marked this as the 12th year in a row primary care experienced growth. President of AAFP ADA Stewart, MD, commended students for their dedication to primary care in a separate statement.
RevCycle Intelligence: (3/22) - Several provider groups urged Congress to prevent pending Medicare spending cuts that would have been triggered by the American Rescue Plan Act. MGMA and other industry groups supported two bills - H.R. 1868 and the Medicare Sequester Relief Act (S. 748) - aimed at addressing these cuts and extending the Medicare sequester moratorium.
Aledade: (3/19) - Aledade recently held a webinar on strategies to get more from the transition to value-based care. Panelists discussed the five most common barriers faced by independent primary care practices when trying to transition to value-based care, strategies to overcome these barriers, and ways to utilize value-based care to deliver immediate financial benefits to practices.
AAFP: (3/18) - This blog by AAFP highlights the importance of the boosted Medicare payment rates to physicians for administering the COVID vaccine, which acknowledges the time primary care physicians spend counseling patients and answering their questions about the vaccine.
The Hill: (3/22) - Independent physician practices play a vital and often overlooked role in the larger health system, and can sometimes be the only touchpoint patients have within the wider health care safety net. Given the potential Medicare cuts that could result from the passage of the American Rescue Plan and the upcoming expiration of the moratorium on Medicare sequester cuts, this article calls on policymakers to consider the physical and emotional strain placed on physicians before further aggravating their financial burden by cutting Medicare payments. The author urges the passage of H.R. 1868 to allow physicians to focus on fighting COVID-19 without financial uncertainty tied to reduced Medicare reimbursements.
Fierce Healthcare: (3/22) - The National Association of ACOs (NAACOS) wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra calling for him to set a national goal to have the majority of Medicare beneficiaries in an ACO within four years. NAACOS also recommended strengthening incentives to attract new ACOs and keep existing ones around, making the Next Generation ACO model permanent, increasing ACO shared savings rates and fixing major benchmarking and risk adjustment issues within MSSP, and more.
AJMC: (3/21) - In this episode of the MJH Life Sciences’ Medical World News, Kevin Coloton, founder and CEO of Curation Health, said organizations utilizing a value-based care reimbursement model may be better positioned to delineate high-risk patients and manage their care amid the pandemic. This seems particularly true for long-term symptoms that may arise due to COVID.
Center for Health Care Strategies: (3/18) - In many state Medicaid programs, primary care is the keystone that supports other state health care priorities, including value-based care and health equity. Promoting advanced primary care within Medicaid can help states work toward broader health care goals. CHCS has assisted 10 states through the Advancing Primary Care Innovation in Medicaid Managed Care collaborative in designing Medicaid managed care programs that hold MCOs accountable for progress toward concrete primary care goals. This article outlines principles to build managed care programs centered on strengthening primary care and promoting health equity.
Patient Engagement HIT: (3/18) - According to new insight from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute, people with longstanding patient-provider relationships and a usual source of care tend to be more likely to get the flu shot. Researchers suggest this could help shape COVID-19 vaccine outreach efforts, as clinicians are trusted sources of information for such patients.
Medical Economics: (3/17) - The American College of Physicians (ACP) released a policy paper to address the ethical and professional implications of health care business practices and physician employment. The paper underscores the importance of the patient-physician relationship, and that ethics and professionalism must be emphasized in the shift to value-based care and explicitly addressed in business practices and employment relationships when faced with external motivators.
AJMC: (3/17) - During a session of the V-BID Summit 2021 hosted by the Center for Value-Based Insurance Design at the University of Michigan, a panel of experts provided consumer insights into value-based insurance design (VBID). The panelists discussed how VBID is an important tool to address health care affordability and that the pandemic may have changed consumer behaviors in a way VBID could help address.
News Wise: (3/17) - Over the last decade, the health care system has experienced an increase in consolidation - hospitals and health systems bought up over 8,000 private medical practices and 14,000 physicians left private practice to join hospitals from mid-2016 to early 2018 alone. A recent Perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine raises considerations around the impact such practices have on health equity, reducing competition, and increasing prices for health care services. The authors propose transparency across the industry so regulators can take action as needed.
AJMC: (3/17) - This blog discusses how a value-based care team approach can help to treat patients’ medical problems adequately and address challenges faced in their everyday lives. The author addressed how in-depth conversations with patients is the norm in her primary care practice, which takes time and resources that require the support of a care team who provides the full spectrum of services and can help reduce the physician’s normal administrative burdens.