Seniors oppose cutting the Medicare Advantage (MA) program to fund the Medicare physician payment fix, and believe cuts to MA will hurt them, according to a study jointly conducted by Ayers, McHenry & Associates and the Feldman Group on behalf of America’s Health Insurance Plans. This opposition was voiced by enrollees in traditional Medicare and in MA plans.

Traditional Medicare enrollees oppose cutting MA instead of cutting payments for doctors who treat Medicare patients by a 3–1 ratio; MA enrollees oppose it by a 6–1 ratio.

“Seniors agree that the physician payment system needs to be fixed, but not at the expense of more than nine million people who rely on the high-value coverage they receive from Medicare Advantage plans,” says Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans.

Half of seniors enrolled in traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans oppose the scheduled cut in payments to doctors. But seniors would prefer cutting other programs besides Medicare Advantage or raising taxes to offset the spending needed to stop a scheduled cut in physician payments.

At press time on June 29, Congress was unable to decide how to prevent a 10 percent cut in payments to doctors that would take effect July 1.

Do you approve or disapprove of proposed cuts to the Medicare Advantage program instead of cutting payments to doctors?

If Congress moves to stop the scheduled cut in physicians’ payments, how do you think it should offset this spending?

Source: Ayers, McHenry & Associates and the Feldman Group. National Survey of Seniors in Medicare Regarding Medicare Advantage & Pay cuts for Doctors. June 11–15, 2008.

Managed Care’s Top Ten Articles of 2016

There’s a lot more going on in health care than mergers (Aetna-Humana, Anthem-Cigna) creating huge players. Hundreds of insurers operate in 50 different states. Self-insured employers, ACA public exchanges, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid managed care plans crowd an increasingly complex market.

Major health care players are determined to make health information exchanges (HIEs) work. The push toward value-based payment alone almost guarantees that HIEs will be tweaked, poked, prodded, and overhauled until they deliver on their promise. The goal: straight talk from and among tech systems.

They bring a different mindset. They’re willing to work in teams and focus on the sort of evidence-based medicine that can guide health care’s transformation into a system based on value. One question: How well will this new generation of data-driven MDs deal with patients?

The surge of new MS treatments have been for the relapsing-remitting form of the disease. There’s hope for sufferers of a different form of MS. By homing in on CD20-positive B cells, ocrelizumab is able to knock them out and other aberrant B cells circulating in the bloodstream.

A flood of tests have insurers ramping up prior authorization and utilization review. Information overload is a problem. As doctors struggle to keep up, health plans need to get ahead of the development of the technology in order to successfully manage genetic testing appropriately.

Having the data is one thing. Knowing how to use it is another. Applying its computational power to the data, a company called RowdMap puts providers into high-, medium-, and low-value buckets compared with peers in their markets, using specific benchmarks to show why outliers differ from the norm.
Competition among manufacturers, industry consolidation, and capitalization on me-too drugs are cranking up generic and branded drug prices. This increase has compelled PBMs, health plan sponsors, and retail pharmacies to find novel ways to turn a profit, often at the expense of the consumer.
The development of recombinant DNA and other technologies has added a new dimension to care. These medications have revolutionized the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and many of the other 80 or so autoimmune diseases. But they can be budget busters and have a tricky side effect profile.

Shelley Slade
Vogel, Slade & Goldstein

Hub programs have emerged as a profitable new line of business in the sales and distribution side of the pharmaceutical industry that has got more than its fair share of wheeling and dealing. But they spell trouble if they spark collusion, threaten patients, or waste federal dollars.

More companies are self-insuring—and it’s not just large employers that are striking out on their own. The percentage of employers who fully self-insure increased by 44% in 1999 to 63% in 2015. Self-insurance may give employers more control over benefit packages, and stop-loss protects them against uncapped liability.