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5 Things to Look for at AHIP's Health Policy Conference Next Week

Allison Inserro
Next week, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) holds its annual National Health Policy Conference in Washington, DC. The American Journal of Managed Care® spoke to David Merritt, its executive vice president of public affairs, about possible things to watch for during this event.
Next week, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) holds its annual National Health Policy Conference in Washington, DC. The American Journal of Managed Care® spoke to David Merritt, its executive vice president of public affairs, about possible things to watch for during this event.

1. What will President Trump’s healthcare representatives ­announce or say?

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, is speaking Tuesday on the topic of “Affording Tomorrow’s Cures” and HHS Secretary Alex Azar is giving a keynote address Wednesday called “The Future of Health Reform: The View from HHS.” Merritt said that it will be the first major speech Azar has given to a healthcare group, and AHIP is particularly interested to hear what he has to say about lowering drug prices. He also noted that Medicare Advantage rate notice policy changes are happening now, and people will be listening for signals about where those are headed. Lastly, payers will want to hear solutions for stabilizing the individual marketplace.

2. Is there a solution on drug prices?

Groups from both sides of the political aisle agree that drug prices are too high; AHIP is hoping that more choices and more competition in the generic drug marketplace will lower prices and will be listening to see if that is a focal point in any speeches next week.  

3. Updates on the opioid crisis.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is kicking off a session and panel about the opioid crisis on Tuesday. “It doesn’t matter where you live, how much you make, it’s devastating to millions and millions of Americans and families every single day,” said Merritt.

He said AHIP is working to limit unnecessary prescriptions, the number of pills prescribed, and the length of time for which they are prescribed. He cited their Safe, Transparent Opioid Prescribing (STOP) Initiative, which is designed to support widespread adoption of clinical guidelines for pain care and opioid prescribing. 

4. How can we make healthcare affordable?

Stakeholders largely agree that care should be affordable, but for policy makers, the question is always, “how do we get there?” Merritt said that AHIP has been focused on how to reform the individual market. He noted that there will be another budget bill March 24 when the current stopgap spending bill expires and said there will be an opportunity to look at the proposal by Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, on cost-sharing reimbursements for insurers participating in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. It will lower premiums and lower costs for millions of Americans, Merritt said.

5. Where will the single-payer debate go in a year of midterm elections, followed shortly by a presidential campaign?

The AHIP conference features a pro–con panel on single-payer healthcare with leading health policy experts. AHIP’s view is that, although costs are out of control, it hopes that the best ideas from both the public and private sectors can be used to come up with a solution to lower costs for everyone. Merritt called a single-payer system a “one-size-fits-all, government-controlled approach that would result in higher costs and higher taxes and less choice.”

To hear the full discussion with David Merritt, listen to our Managed Care Cast next week.

 
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