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What Will Congress's Top Health Priority Be This Year?

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What Will Congress’s Top Health Priority Be This Year?

Healthcare experts weigh in

MedpageToday

  • by News Editor, MedPage Today

Congress has a long list of healthcare issues it may deal with in the coming year — Medicare and Medicaid reform, reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and lowering high drug prices, to name a few. But which one is likely to be the Number One priority?

MedPage Today asked a few experts for their thoughts on this question. Here are their responses:

Daniel Derksen, MD, director of the Arizona Center for Rural Health, University of Arizona: “The top priority in early 2018 will be funding crucial programs including Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP beyond the stopgap continuing resolution that ends January 19th … Congress would do well to focus on health policy issues with broad bipartisan support such as reauthorizing CHIP for the long term, reforming professional liability insurance, and holding the pharmaceutical industry accountable for skyrocketing medication costs.”

Gerald Kominski, MD, professor of health policy and management, University of California Los Angeles: “Unfortunately, in light of the massive deficits created by the recent tax cuts promoted by the president, I suspect the top healthcare priority for Congress in 2018 will be how to reduce those deficits on the backs of Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries. This has been a long-term goal of Speaker [Paul] Ryan [R-Wisc.], and he’s never been closer to achieving his goal of permanently reducing public expenditures for healthcare.”

David Nash, MD, MBA, founding dean, College of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University: “I believe the Congress will focus on several key issues this year, including tackling the increasing cost of pharmaceuticals and finding a way to further expand Medicare Advantage. Congress would do well to embrace aspects of the November 2017 report from the NAM [National Academy of Medicine] entitled ‘Making Medicines Affordable.'”

Kenneth Lin, MD, MPH, associate professor of family medicine, Georgetown University: “Given how polarized Congress is and that 2018 is an election year, I doubt that either the House or the Senate will forge enough consensus to take positive action on any healthcare priorities. They ought to be working on streamlining insurance regulations and paperwork, malpractice reform, health information technology interoperability, improving primary care payment, and lowering barriers to providing care outside of the broken insurance model. Will they actually accomplish any of these things, rather than just pointing fingers at the other party? … I very much doubt it.”

Edmund Funai, MD, vice dean, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida: “Congress’s top healthcare priority in 2018 should be to find stable funding for CHIP, upon which 9 million children depend, but [which] has only been been granted 3 more months of temporary appropriations. What Congress will likely focus on, however, is more rhetoric about dismantling ‘Obamacare.'”

Paul Hughes-Cromwick, MA, co-director of sustainable health spending strategies, Altarum Institute: “I believe their top priority will be ‘entitlement reform,’ since the GOP strongly believes in this and will use massive and growing deficits to argue that cutting spending on these large programs is required. Nevertheless, Congress will confront the same truism that every significant attempt to cut spending has: it is nearly impossible to cut the benefits of those who vote in large numbers and are a core of your political support … Thus, the most likely outcome is smaller budget cuts with dramatic impact on the disadvantaged, especially in the out years. This includes Medicaid ‘reform,’ likely by another push to impose block grants, and cuts to other welfare programs.”

2018-04-01T00:00:00-0400

last updated

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At MedPage Today, we are committed to ensuring that individuals with disabilities can access all of the content offered by MedPage Today through our website and other properties. If you are having trouble accessing www.medpagetoday.com, MedPageToday's mobile apps, please email legal@ziffdavis.com for assistance. Please put "ADA Inquiry" in the subject line of your email.

Medpage Today

What Will Congress's Top Health Priority Be This Year?

Healthcare experts weigh in

MedpageToday

  • by News Editor, MedPage Today

Congress has a long list of healthcare issues it may deal with in the coming year -- Medicare and Medicaid reform, reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and lowering high drug prices, to name a few. But which one is likely to be the Number One priority?

MedPage Today asked a few experts for their thoughts on this question. Here are their responses:

Daniel Derksen, MD, director of the Arizona Center for Rural Health, University of Arizona: "The top priority in early 2018 will be funding crucial programs including Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP beyond the stopgap continuing resolution that ends January 19th ... Congress would do well to focus on health policy issues with broad bipartisan support such as reauthorizing CHIP for the long term, reforming professional liability insurance, and holding the pharmaceutical industry accountable for skyrocketing medication costs."

Gerald Kominski, MD, professor of health policy and management, University of California Los Angeles: "Unfortunately, in light of the massive deficits created by the recent tax cuts promoted by the president, I suspect the top healthcare priority for Congress in 2018 will be how to reduce those deficits on the backs of Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries. This has been a long-term goal of Speaker [Paul] Ryan [R-Wisc.], and he's never been closer to achieving his goal of permanently reducing public expenditures for healthcare."

David Nash, MD, MBA, founding dean, College of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University: "I believe the Congress will focus on several key issues this year, including tackling the increasing cost of pharmaceuticals and finding a way to further expand Medicare Advantage. Congress would do well to embrace aspects of the November 2017 report from the NAM [National Academy of Medicine] entitled 'Making Medicines Affordable.'"

Kenneth Lin, MD, MPH, associate professor of family medicine, Georgetown University: "Given how polarized Congress is and that 2018 is an election year, I doubt that either the House or the Senate will forge enough consensus to take positive action on any healthcare priorities. They ought to be working on streamlining insurance regulations and paperwork, malpractice reform, health information technology interoperability, improving primary care payment, and lowering barriers to providing care outside of the broken insurance model. Will they actually accomplish any of these things, rather than just pointing fingers at the other party? ... I very much doubt it."

Edmund Funai, MD, vice dean, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida: "Congress's top healthcare priority in 2018 should be to find stable funding for CHIP, upon which 9 million children depend, but [which] has only been been granted 3 more months of temporary appropriations. What Congress will likely focus on, however, is more rhetoric about dismantling 'Obamacare.'"

Paul Hughes-Cromwick, MA, co-director of sustainable health spending strategies, Altarum Institute: "I believe their top priority will be 'entitlement reform,' since the GOP strongly believes in this and will use massive and growing deficits to argue that cutting spending on these large programs is required. Nevertheless, Congress will confront the same truism that every significant attempt to cut spending has: it is nearly impossible to cut the benefits of those who vote in large numbers and are a core of your political support ... Thus, the most likely outcome is smaller budget cuts with dramatic impact on the disadvantaged, especially in the out years. This includes Medicaid 'reform,' likely by another push to impose block grants, and cuts to other welfare programs."

2018-04-01T00:00:00-0400

last updated

Comments

Accessibility Statement

At MedPage Today, we are committed to ensuring that individuals with disabilities can access all of the content offered by MedPage Today through our website and other properties. If you are having trouble accessing www.medpagetoday.com, MedPageToday's mobile apps, please email legal@ziffdavis.com for assistance. Please put "ADA Inquiry" in the subject line of your email.



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