The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its potential replacements have been the center of attention in the national healthcare news over the past several months. However, there are a number of other important health-related issues that are either being addressed or that experts feel should be addressed in the coming months.
Physicians Practice has gathered input from experts on ten other health policy items to consider:
- The opioid crisis: Physicians tend to prescribe opioids for patients who suffer from chronic pain; those physicians need more options for places to send patients who need alternative pain-management treatments.
- Medicare for all: A single payer system funded through taxes has been proven to be cost-effective in other countries. Studies have shown that “healthcare outcomes improve with simplified coverage.”
- MACRA/Quality Payment Program: Higher quality performers should be rewarded with bonus payments through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, according to one healthcare expert.
- The regulatory burden: Independent physicians are feeling significant pain points in regard to the regulatory requirements around MACRA. The Medicare Red Tape Relief Project has been launched by the House Ways and Means Committee to address this issue.
- More timely feedback: Providers are not receiving timely or helpful feedback from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Congress should re-emphasize the original suggestion of quarterly feedback, one healthcare expert suggests.
- Medicaid waivers: In an effort to make healthcare accessible and affordable, options are generally available in every state for waiving certain portions of the Medicaid law.
- Reducing provider consolidation: The trend toward hospitals consolidating is driving up healthcare costs, a healthcare expert suggests, and pricing should be regulated to stem the increases.
- Stark Law: In an environment that is transitioning toward value-based care, it may be time to review the purpose of the Stark Law, which is focused on physician self-referral.
Cost of care: Access and affordability are key elements to effective healthcare and rising costs are creating unaffordable health insurance premiums and costs for physicians as well as patients.
- Funding rural health programs: Funding for rural teaching programs is slated to end with the 2017 fiscal year. Physicians training in these programs tend to serve in primary care and in underserved areas; funds should be approved at least another three years to support these programs.