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What We're Reading: Critics Blast Proposed Medicare Changes; Nonprofit Hospital Concerns; Drug Pricing Plan Analysis

AJMC Staff
The Trump administration is proposing to pay doctors who take Medicare basically the same amount for office visits regardless of reason; the pending sale of Mission Health to HCA Healthcare reflects a national trend as hospitals consolidate at an accelerating pace and the cost of healthcare continues to rise; a closer look at 5 ideas in President Trump's plan to lower drug prices.

Critics Assail CMS Plan to Change How Medicare Pays Doctors for New, Established Patients

The Trump administration is proposing to pay doctors who take Medicare basically the same amount for office visits regardless of reason, a move that CMS says will reduce paperwork but critics say will cause underpayments for complex patients, The New York Times reported. The proposal would pay one rate for new patients and a lower rate for established patients. Ted Okon, the executive director of the Community Oncology Alliance, called the idea “simply crazy." The proposal, part of Medicare’s physician fee schedule for 2019, is to be published Friday in the Federal Register, with an opportunity for public comment until September 10. The new policies would apply to services starting in January.

 

North Carolina Worries About Future of Nonprofit Hospital Chain Under New Ownership

The pending sale of Mission Health, the largest hospital system in western North Carolina, to HCA Healthcare, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain, reflects a national trend as hospitals consolidate at an accelerating pace and the cost of healthcare continues to rise, Kaiser Health News reported. Mission Health provided $100 million in free charity care last year. Residents worry whether the nonprofit hospital will maintain its deep community ties, although the deal would also mean the creation of a large nonprofit foundation that could potentially have close to $2 billion in assets. In addition, HCA will have to pay upward of $10 million in state and local taxes.

 

What's Behind the Trump Drug Plan? A Closer Look at Some Ideas

After a flurry of pharmaceutical pricing news over the past week, what’s really behind President Trump’s plan to lower drug prices? STAT dissected 5 ideas that seem to be coming to a head, saying some of the ideas on the list are indeed big ones, while other recent announcements are first steps in what will likely incite a regulatory battle against industry players. Others are such small changes as to be effectively meaningless, and other ideas represent an effort to put a new spin on policies that have already been in the works.

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