Daily on Healthcare: Voters happy with their healthcare, survey finds, highlighting risks of sweeping reform plans

By | May 15, 2019

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VOTERS HAPPY WITH THEIR HEALTHCARE, SURVEY FINDS, HIGHLIGHTING RISKS OF SWEEPING REFORM PLANS: Voters perceive the U.S. healthcare system as deeply flawed, even as the majority of them report they’re satisfied with what they have, according to a survey released Wednesday by RealClear Opinion Research.

The survey, of 2,000 people, found that 72% of voters are largely happy with the overall quality of their healthcare, with 20% rating is as “excellent,” 52% rating it as “good,” 22% rating it as “fair,” and only 6% rating it as “poor.”

The results suggest that candidates risk running afoul of public opinion by calling for sweeping overhauls of the healthcare system, such as the ‘Medicare for all’ plan backed by many Democratic presidential candidates.

But there were also findings suggesting the public is open to change. When voters were asked about the “overall quality of healthcare other Americans receive today.” It found 39% rated it as “fair,” 16% said it was “poor,” 34% said it was “good,” and 10% rated it as “excellent.”

“Healthcare will be an overarching issue from this point forward to 2020,” said John Della Volpe, polling director for RealClear Opinion Research and co-founder of SocialSphere Inc., a public opinion and analytics firm. “The debate will be on the size, shape, and timetable associated with those reforms.”

The largest plurality of voters, 39%, said they wanted the current system to improve, while 28% said an entirely new system was needed. A slightly higher percentage than that, 29%, said the system was “good, but not perfect; we need to continually make improvements.”

Still, only 4% of voters said no significant changes were needed, and voters appeared concerned about cost: 44% of respondents said they or their family was financially burdened by health costs.

Good morning and welcome to the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Healthcare! This newsletter is written by senior healthcare reporter Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL) and healthcare reporter Cassidy Morrison (@CassMorrison94). You can reach us with tips, calendar items, or suggestions at dailyonhealthcare@washingtonexaminer.com. If someone forwarded you this email and you’d like to receive it regularly, you can subscribe here.

US FERTILITY FALLS TO RECORD LOW, FEWEST BIRTHS IN 32 YEARS: The U.S. fertility rate fell to a record low in 2018 and the number of births declined for a fourth consecutive year, the National Center for Health Statistics reported Wednesday. The nation’s total fertility rate declined by 2% to 1.73 children per woman. Fertility has now been below the replacement rate for a decade.

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RIP ALICE RIVLIN: The founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and former Federal Reserve Board Vice Chair Alice Rivlin died of cancer Tuesday at age 88. A trained economist, Rivlin was awarded the Paul Volcker Lifetime Achievement Award for Economic Policy from the National Association of Business Economics in 2015, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, unofficially known as the “genius grant,” in 1983, and a number of other honorary degrees and public policy leadership awards. She was most recently working as a senior fellow for economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

AFTER TRUMP’S BLESSING, HOUSE ROLLS OUT PLAN TO END SURPRISE MEDICAL BILLS: The House Energy and Commerce Committee unveiled a discussion draft Tuesday called the “No Surprises Act” to end surprise medical bills, getting Congress closer to notching a bipartisan victory on healthcare. Lawmakers will be collecting feedback on the draft in the coming weeks.

Here’s what it proposes:

*Hospitals and doctors could only charge health insurers local market prices for care that is outside a patient’s network.

*Patients would need to be told which providers are out of their network and whether they could face additional charges.

*Patients would only have to pay the amount of money for their medical bills that they would have had to pay if providers were in network.

*Emergency departments wouldn’t be allowed to use “balanced billing,” in which they send patients a bill charging them for the cost of medical care that a health insurer wouldn’t cover.

*The bill would fund $ 50 million in grants for states to use to put together databases about healthcare costs and to come up with ideas about how to lower them.

What’s missing: The draft does not contain an arbitration process opposed by the White House in which a third party decides what a high-priced medical service should cost. The method has helped lower costs in New York, and the House bill wouldn’t undo measures states have already set up.

Insurers rejoice: “This draft bill would ensure patients are protected; that doctors are paid fairly; that networks are supported; and that the free market is permitted to work to ensure affordable, high-quality care,” said Matt Eyles, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans.

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Hospitals oppose: “We strongly oppose approaches that would impose arbitrary rates on providers. Insurers should maintain comprehensive networks and this plan takes us in the opposite direction by removing incentives to contract with providers,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.

ALABAMA PASSES NATION’S STRICTEST ABORTION BAN, WOULD SEND DOCTORS TO PRISON FOR PROCEDURE: Alabama lawmakers sent a bill to Republican Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday that would put doctors in prison for 10 to 99 years if they provide abortions. Lawmakers rejected an amendment 21-11 that would have created exemptions for rape or incest — provisions typically included in anti-abortion legislation. The bill includes an exemption if a woman were to seek an abortion because her pregnancy threatens her health, and it wouldn’t punish women for having abortions.

DEMOCRATIC MICHIGAN GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER SAYS SHE’LL VETO ‘DISMEMBERMENT’ ABORTION BAN BILL: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, says she will veto legislation passed by the Republican legislature that would ban evacuation and dilation abortion procedures. Referred to as “dismemberment abortions” by anti-abortion groups, the procedure accounts for the majority of second-trimester abortions.

TRUMP’S BASE LOYAL DESPITE BORDER WALL AND OBAMACARE FAILURES: Despite failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act as promised, Trump’s base is sticking with him, and Republican strategists expect his supporters will remain loyal in the upcoming election. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski called Trump’s base “exceptionally loyal.” In 2017, the Republican-controlled Senate could not muster enough votes to repeal and replace Obamacare, though it did manage to repeal the individual mandate.

DOJ: FDA CAN’T REGULATE LETHAL INJECTION DRUGS: The Department of Justice issued an opinion this month that the Food and Drug Administration has no jurisdiction over the lethal drugs that are used in executions. The DOJ wrote in an opinion released earlier this month the FDA “has not historically exercised jurisdiction over articles intended to carry out a lawful sentence of capital punishment.”

DRUG PRICE ADVOCACY GROUP ACCUSES PHARMA COMPANY OF VALUING PROFIT OVER PEOPLE: Patients for Affordable Drugs published a report Wednesday finding pharma company GlaxoSmithKline has “a long history” of delaying approval of generic drugs, promoting faulty safety information, and pricing drugs so they are out of reach of those who need them. GSK manufactures drugs to treat a range of conditions, from asthma, to HIV, and lupus.

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SENIORS’ HEALTH WORSENED FROM 2002 TO 2017: REPORT: America’s Health Rankings found seniors’ health has changed significantly over 15 years. Among young seniors aged 65 to 74, rates of excessive drinking and diabetes are each about 40% higher and the death rate of young seniors is now 22% lower.

MAINE SENATE VOTES TO REMOVE RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS FOR VACCINES: The Maine Senate voted 18-17 Tuesday to remove religious exemptions from the state’s law mandating vaccines for children. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills spoke on the Senate floor about her support for the bill. Opponents said repealing the exemptions would push families out of the state while doing very little to improve public health. If Mills signs the bill into law, Maine will be the fourth state, behind California, West Virginia, and Mississippi, to outlaw all non-medical vaccine exemptions.



The Rundown

Sunlight Foundation HHS removed 85-page website with materials about the Affordable Care Act

The New York Times Despite measles warnings, anti-vaccine rally draws hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews

Stat Gilead struck anti-competitive deals to bolster profits on an HIV drug, lawsuit says

Kaiser Health News ‘Living their values’: palliative care power couple faces cancer at home

The Washington Post ‘Heartbeat’ abortion ban to be debated in Missouri Senate

The Wall Street Journal Hospital drug-making venture picks antibiotics as first products



May 14-15. Hyatt Centric. Arlington, Va. Population Health Payer Plan Innovations for Medicaid, Medicare, and Duals. Payer Agenda.

May 15-16. Hyatt Centric. Arlington, Va. Population Health Payer Plan Innovations for Medicaid, Medicare, and Duals. Hospital Agenda.

Noon. Newseum. AIR340B 6th Annual National Stakeholder Summit.


9 a.m. 1301 K St NW. Washington Post Live event on mental health and addiction. Details.

10 a.m. 2154 Rayburn. House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on “HIV Prevention Drug: Billions in Corporate Profits after Millions in Taxpayer Investments.” Details.