Health policy trends for 2018 January 9, 2018
The state of healthcare in the US continues to be a hot topic for discussion among policymakers and health policy analysts. Several areas will be of particular interest to independent physicians in 2018, from Medicare policy changes to the shifting regulations of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to information technology. Here are some of the issues that independent physicians should pay closer attention to in the new year.
The opioid crisis will continue to be an issue impacted by changing health policy. More states are considering legislation requiring Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) to stem the potential abuse created by paper prescriptions.
A report published by the PwC Health Research Institute, “Top health industry issues of 2018: A year for resilience amid uncertainty,” cites the need for government agencies to work together on the opioid issue as well. “Combining public and private health data may reveal new insights and areas of focus … In Massachusetts, data sharing across many government agencies has made it easier to find at-risk opioid patients.”
The PwC Health Research Institute report also advises that independent physicians may be expected to participate in more “risk sharing” for their Medicaid patients in 2018. The report states that “States are pushing value-based reimbursement models for Medicaid amid probable funding changes in 2018 and may look to Section 1115 ACA innovation waivers that let them test models such as pay for performance or accountable care.”
The shift to value-based care continues with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), even as CMS Administrator Seema Verma emphasizes the need for flexibility and for making more programs voluntary for independent physicians. Managed Healthcare Executive states that Verma’s “goal of flexibility could be achieved through more state innovation waivers through Section 1332 of the ACA.”
Of course, technology will continue to improve with the goal of assisting independent physicians with managing their patients’ medical records. The use of electronic health records (EHRs), in particular, will become critical to the efficiency of the independent physician’s practice as new regulations and policies are put into place in the new year.