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Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine last week unveiled a bill they are describing as an "Obamacare replacement plan." Perhaps the most notable aspect: Any state that likes Obamacare may keep it. Meanwhile, Speaker Paul Ryan mapped out the GOP's 200-day legislative strategy, saying Republicans will repeal and replace portions of Obamacare by spring. (CNN; The Hill)


Health insurers are lobbying for their preferences--such as giving states more control over insurance, maintaining government subsidies for low-income people, introducing a penalty and incentive program and strictly enforcing eligibility while cutting down the risk to their bottom line and reducing premium hikes that "threaten the viability of this insurance market." "It would be really helpful if we in the industry played a more significant role in the actual enrollment process," says Daniel Hilferty, CEO of Independence Blue Cross in Pennsylvania. ( Reuters )

The Senate Finance Committee has approved Rep. Tom Price's nomination as Health and Human Services secretary in a session that excluded committee Democrats, Modern Healthcare reports. After Democrats boycotted the Tuesday vote to move the nomination to the full senate, the committee suspended rules that required at least one Democrat be present for the vote. Price's nomination still needs to be voted on by the full Senate; he is expected to win confirmation. (Modern Healthcare; CNN  
Innovation & Transformation    
American Psychologist devoted a recent issue largely to highlighting the value of integrating psychologists into the patient-centered medical home. But such integration requires viable payment models--something missing from the current system. In one article, "Payment Reform in the Patient-Centered Medical Home: Enabling and Sustaining Integrated Behavioral Care," the authors make the case that global payments provide the optimal structure for integrating behavioral health physicians into the PCMH. Other approaches also hold promise, but what's abundantly clear is that fee-for-service does not work. (American Psychologist )
Consumers & Providers
Primary care doctors do not support full ACA repeal, according to a new survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Of 426 internal medicine physicians, pediatricians, geriatricians and family doctors polled, only 15 percent agree with a complete dismantling of Obamacare. In comparison, 26 percent of the general public say they want full repeal, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. (Consumer Health Day; NEJM )
A new National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report finds a lack of conclusive evidence about the medical effects of marijuana. One reason: Its designation as a Schedule I substance has made rigorous research difficult, according to the report. It's not all fuzzy, however. There is conclusive evidence that certain oral cannabinoids are effective for treating and preventing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. On the other side of the scale, evidence suggests that regularly smoking marijuana is associated with more frequent chronic bronchitis and a chronic cough. (NPR; report)
 
New & Noted   
PCPs and end-of-life care: Regions of the country with greater primary care physician involvement in the last six months of life appear to have lower-intensity, lower-cost end-of-life care, according to research published in the Annals of Family Medicine. (Annals of Family Medicine; HealthLeaders Media )
Gray

Leaked fears:  GOP lawmakers are increasingly worried about how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, according to leaked audio from a closed-door congressional retreat. Kaiser Health News offers a wrap-up of the coverage. (KHN)  
 

Paying for advocacy: A national survey of 439 patient advocacy organizations (the vast majority of which were nonprofit) found that 67 percent receive funding from for-profit companies, with 12 percent receiving most of their funding from industry. ( JAMA)
Multi-media  
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released an interactive, online visualization of Medicare Part D opioid prescribing rates. The map and accompanying datasets include prescribing information from 2013 and 2014, allowing users to view changes over time at the state, county and zip code levels. (CMS)
MarketVoices...quotes worth reading
 
"Primary care physicians are on the front lines of health care--they are physicians that patients know best and turn to first when they are sick. With primary care physicians often helping patients navigate challenges with their insurance, it is critical to understand their perspectives on the repeal of the act." --Dr. Craig Pollack, quoted in Consumer Health Day, discussing a survey that finds primary care docs oppose full repeal of the ACA.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017