NCHC CEO John Rother Calls MACRA Implementation a Win for Affordability

“Today’s final rule on MACRA implementation is a milestone in the shift away from volume-based, fee-for-service physician payment. It represents an important victory in ongoing efforts to improve the affordability of Medicare and health care generally.

“But with costs climbing in Medicare and system-wide, Congress should build on MACRA and make bipartisan chronic care legislation a top priority.

“NCHC will be examining the details of today’s regulation—and if necessary advocating for improvements.  But we know two things already:  First, physicians and other health professionals will face significant incentives to embrace new models of care and delivery. Second, due to statutory barriers, clinician practices and provider organizations are denied the tools needed to optimally respond to those incentives.

Read full press release here.

Medicare Enrollment Bill Takes Steps to Address Coverage and Affordability Gaps

Statement by National Coalition on Health Care President and CEO John Rother on the introduction of H.R. 6184, the Medicare Enrollment Protection Act, by Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR)

“Medicare’s enrollment procedures can be confusing…and every year some beneficiaries inadvertently miss crucial deadlines to sign up for Part B. Missing this deadline can mean an increase in Part B premiums for the remainder of the beneficiary’s time on Medicare – a substantial shift of Medicare’s costs onto the enrollee.  Or it can create coverage gaps that may render ongoing care for chronic or other conditions unaffordable.

Read full press release here.

Examining Selected Proposals in ‘A Better Way to Fix Health Care’: Coverage Policy and Health Care Innovation (Part 2)

In our blog post on July 14, we talked about some of the provisions in the House Republican Health Care Task Force’s health reform proposal — entitled “A Better Way” — that NCHC believes would modernize and improve the Medicare program for beneficiaries and taxpayers alike. In later posts, we will turn a critical eye toward their plans for the children, seniors, and low-income adults who depend on Medicaid and CHIP.  But today, we identify some elements of the Task Force’s coverage and innovation proposals that represent good starting points for future dialogue.

As an organization, NCHC has long been committed to finding common ground solutions to our health care challenges. And  “A Better Way” does provide some room for future conversation. The Task Force report opens with the following quote: “Americans deserve an accessible and affordable health care system that promotes quality care and peace of mind. It should empower patients and support innovation.”  We could not agree more with these goals.  After all, the National Coalition on Health Care was established to support efforts for better and more affordable coverage for all Americans, and we too believe our health care system should focus on patient-centered, high quality health care.

Read the full blog post here:


Examining Selected Proposals in ‘A Better Way to Fix Health Care’

On June 22, the House Health Care Reform Task Force, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, released their blueprint describing how the House Republican caucus’ hopes to reform our country’s health care system, entitled “A Better Way to Fix Health Care.” There is much in their approach that we at NCHC do not support.  To name just a few examples, there is nothing particularly appealing about proposals to roll back federal support for Medicaid and CHIP, raise Medicare’s eligibility age or shutdown the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation’s crucial work on alternative payment models.  We’ll have more to say on these issues in later blog posts.

But there are ideas in the package that, properly developed, could improve our health care system. So we begin today by taking a close look at a few constructive proposals included in the report’s Medicare section.

Read the full blog post here:


Access to Better Care Act Could Bring Down Barriers to Affordability

Statement by National Coalition on Health Care President and CEO John Rother on the introduction of H.R. 5652, the Access to Better Care Act of 2016, by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

“For years, we have known that High-Deductible Health Plans with Health Savings Accounts are the reality for a growing segment of the population –covering an estimated 19.7 million Americans as of 2015.  And for years, we have known that their deductibles sometimes deter utilization—even when the impacted services and drugs save money and improve outcomes.”

Read the full press release here:


New Bipartisan Medicare Bill Opens Door to Higher Quality, Lower Cost

Statement by NCHC President and CEO John Rother on Introduction of the Independence at Home Act of 2016 by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)

“This bipartisan legislation opens the door to home-based primary care for nearly two million of Medicare’s frailest beneficiaries—an approach that is proven to save money for taxpayers even as it improves care quality. The Independence at Home Act ought to be near the top of Congress’ to-do list.”

Read full press release here:


NCHC Backs Elements of MACRA Rule, But Expresses Concern About Flaws in APM Proposals

WASHINGTON, DC— In comments submitted today to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC), an alliance of leading national health care, consumer, labor and business groups, combined support for elements of CMS’ approach to MACRA implementation with concern that a few flawed provisions could undermine the law’s objective of promoting alternative payment models (APMs).

Read full press release here:

No Crisis Yet, but Trustees’ Report Predicts Challenges Ahead for Medicare

“Today’s Medicare Trustees’ report might not portend an immediate crisis, but it’s sure not good news either.

The Trustees project that Medicare will grow from 3.6% of GDP today to 5.6% of GDP by 2040. The program’s financial challenges are magnified for beneficiaries once you consider the affordability gaps in Medicare’s existing benefits—including a lack of a cap on catastrophic out-of-pocket costs.”

See full press release here:

NCHC Praises Ways and Means’ Reforms to Hospital Readmissions Policy

“The important reforms to Medicare’s readmissions penalties, as advanced by Representatives Tiberi and McDermott, will enable Medicare to continue reducing readmission rates, while addressing disproportionate and biased penalties against providers serving lower-income populations.

“Improving health care affordability requires improving the value of care delivered—especially in the communities and populations where costly chronic conditions are more prevalent. But it is a fact, documented by MedPAC and peer-reviewed studies, that HRRP’s current methodology penalizes providers serving lower-income patients, draining resources from the places that need them most. In the long-run, continuation of that methodology would generate higher rather than lower cost of care for those patients.”

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Proposed MACRA Rule is the First Step in Transformation of Clinician Payment

“Yesterday’s proposed rule is the first major step toward implementing last year’s historic SGR reform legislation and accelerating clinicians’ transition away from volume-based medicine. Getting these regulations right may determine whether that law succeeds in improving the long-term affordability of health care.”

See full press release: