Wellness Tips

Bill Haslam to Congress, Trump: Control soaring health care costs

NASHVILLE — Given the collapse of Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam hopes Washington will flip its consideration to a longer- time period health coverage concern he says has been largely ignored up to now.

That is making health care truly extra reasonably priced by discovering methods to rein in perennially soaring costs in an business that accounts for one sixth of the nationwide financial system and even has its personal particular price of inflation.

“I have a really strong opinion there,” the Republican governor advised reporters earlier this week. “I think it’s time to look at the piece of the Affordable Care Act that got left out to begin with. The ACA was always supposed to do two things: Increase the number of people who have coverage. No. 2, make health care more affordable.”

But, Haslam stated, the second piece of that by no means occurred.

“If you look at what we’re spending, the federal budget 20 years ago for health care was 20 percent,” the governor stated. “Well, today it’s 30 percent — are we going to let that keep going? In Tennessee, you all have seen what happened to TennCare. We’re going to let that keep going?”

Haslam’s feedback got here after final week’s U.S. Senate meltdown through which GOP leaders and Republican President Donald Trump noticed their effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, extensively often known as Obamacare, fail in a 49-51 procedural vote, regardless of the GOP’s 52-member majority.

An indignant Trump has since railed over the failure, saying he needs to “let Obamacare implode” and final weekend threatened to cease paying cost-sharing subsidies to insurance coverage corporations that assist decrease the out-of-pocket bills for low-income policyholders.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on Tuesday urged Trump to keep away from that. Alexander additionally introduced his panel will maintain bipartisan health care hearings in September to decide how to hold the person market from collapsing, affecting hundreds of thousands of lower-income individuals throughout Tennessee and the remainder of the U.S.

And on Wednesday, the National Governors Association’s Health and Human Services Committee, led by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, urged each Trump and Congress not to interact within the cost- sharing reductions inside particular person health insurance coverage marketplaces.

Haslam Press Secretary Jennifer Donnals stated her boss agrees.

“Insurers in the individual market in Tennessee have exited at alarming rates because of the fragility of the market,” Donnals stated. “Without cost- sharing reduction funding, the market will struggle to stabilize and we will see higher premiums and additional insurers exiting the individual marketplace.”

Speaking with reporters right here earlier within the week about his long-term health care value considerations, Haslam stated, “Republicans, Democrats, everybody should agree, health care costs can’t keep going like this. And let’s attack that side of the problem.”

Asked whether or not which may embrace steps towards authorities value controls, Haslam dismissed the notion that American health care is a market-driven space in any actual sense.

“We live in this weird world where people say we need to have a market-driven health care system. We don’t have a market-driven health care system. It’s the one thing that not that many people pay for themselves.”

Because employers or authorities wind up stepping in with monetary help to a big extent for many Americans’ health protection, Haslam stated, “you don’t have a true market-driven system. So I think you’re going to have to think about what are the things we are comfortable doing in terms of controlling health care costs.”

Asked for examples, Haslam pointed to his administration’s transfer to pay suppliers in TennCare, the state’s model of Medicaid, based mostly on procedures and outcomes of a medical difficulty and creating various cost mechanisms aimed toward serving to include costs.

TennCare officers describe it as an “episodes of care” strategy through which the state and main health insurers are shifting away from “paying for volume” to “paying for value,” with suppliers rewarded for constructive health outcomes. It additionally incorporates monetary penalties when requirements aren’t up to expectations.

“We’re going to have to do a lot of things like that to take a very different approach,” Haslam stated.

Last fall, the state’s TennCare Bureau reported value financial savings with the brand new various cost system to include costs. But this system has generated considerations from suppliers over measurements.

Earlier this yr, the Tennessee Medical Association, which represents physicians, helped persuade the administration to delay increasing the penalty provisions within the value-based healthcare cost mannequin from TennCare into business health insurance policy that present protection for public staff.

Haslam, in the meantime, additionally pointed to pharmaceutical costs as a serious value issue, noting that if “you look at what drives TennCare, a lot of it is pharmacy increases.” That typically derives from innovation, however there is a “good news, bad news” element there, the governor stated.

“They come up with a new drug to treat Hepatitis C; that’s great news,” the governor famous. “The bad news is it’s $85,000 per regimen. So we’re going to have to decide how we’re going to address situations like that.”

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.


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