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Pressing the gas on reform
by Tim Stapleton, FMA CEO
It’s another busy week at the FMA as executive staff members prepare for the annual AMA House of Delegates meeting in Chicago June 10-14. We look forward to seeing members of the Florida delegation to the AMA, who continue to be forceful and influential advocates for all physicians and the patients you serve.
Meanwhile, the health care industry is trying its best to follow the bouncing ball of ACA replacement in our nation’s capital. Events are evolving by the hour, but several articles provided particularly excellent, concise insight into the saga thus far and what we can expect going forward.
What I’m Reading
Senate GOP aims for June vote on Obamacare repeal
A month after the American Health Care Act bill landed in the Senate for deliberation, Republican leaders have essentially said, “Enough already.” Politico says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others are ratcheting up the pressure to vote on health care reform by the Fourth of July recess so the chamber can focus on other major issues such as tax reform.
“We have to do it before we get out of here in August,” said Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas. “We pretty much know what we have to do. We’ve talked about it for seven years. I wouldn’t want to necessarily rush it, but it’s hard to think it’s necessarily going to go beyond July.”
Meet the GOP senator who wants to bridge the Obamacare divide
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D., gained a megaphone in the health care debate after his comments about the importance of coverage for children got him booked on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Politico reports that despite resistance from Dr. Cassidy’s GOP colleagues and Democrats alike, the Louisiana gastroenterologist has remained steadfast in pushing a reform proposal that would allow states to keep Obamacare.
“I’ve been pretty out front and pretty bold and pretty national and pretty local, saying I want our bill to pass because our bill fulfills President Trump’s pledge to the voter,” Cassidy told 220 people packed into a town hall outside New Orleans last week. “Also, by the way, I think it is good public policy, and I think is good for the American people.”
Obamacare repeal sinks into tedious talking points
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton has the unfortunate distinction of inspiring a derisive verb among his fellow lawmakers. As Bloomberg explains, “Upton” is shorthand for crafting legislation aimed at deflecting criticism instead of actually helping Americans. The Michigan Republican was able to garner more votes for the House Obamacare replacement bill by adding $8 billion-plus over five years to cover people with pre-existing conditions. However:
This was a political ploy; it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the need. Further, the bill’s separate slashing of Medicaid spending would clobber some of this group. Among low-income adults benefiting from Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid coverage, almost 30 percent have mental illness or substance-abuse disorders like opioid addiction.
15 quick facts from CBO report on Obamacare repeal bill
In case you don’t have time to digest the CBO’s full report on the cost/coverage impact of the House GOP health care bill, here’s a handy summary from Modern Healthcare. These takeaways are short but meaningful, covering projected effects on the federal deficit, the number of uninsured Americans, and individual market premiums and stability.
4 strategies for providers to collect on outstanding patient balances
Uncollected patient balances are bad for any practice’s bottom line, and the problem could worsen as patient deductibles keep rising. A Health Care Dive report notes: “Practices only collect 12 percent of outstanding balances at the time of service and collect nothing 67 percent of the time.”
Providers, especially smaller practices, need to look rethink their collection strategies. Some efforts such as offering payment options to fit a patient’s ability to pay or using a digital intake tool may help providers capture money leaving their doors every day.
Fewer doctors have ownership stake in their practices
The trend toward physicians choosing employment or leaving private practice is now an undeniable reality. As reported in Forbes, a recent AMA analysis showed that physicians with a practice ownership stake dropped to 47 percent last year compared to 53.2 percent in 2012, while the percentage of employed physicians increased from 41.8 percent to 47 percent in the same time period.
More doctors are taking jobs or selling their practices to larger entities to gain leverage against insurance companies who pay them. Physicians also find it’s more difficult to access capital without the help of a larger partner to fund investments in necessary health information technology needed to comply with the coming quality measures under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, also known as MACRA.