Staff Reports | NashvillePost.com
Editor’s note: This is the first post from the Nashville Health Care Council’s 2018 Leadership Health Care Delegation to Washington. Look for more content in the coming days.
With the Trump Administration’s second year underway and the 2018 mid-term elections drawing near, participants in this year’s Leadership Health Care’s annual delegation to Washington, D.C., heard from experts on a range of health care topics and participated in lively question-and-answer exchanges to go deeper on the issues of policy, politics and the media.
Andrew Bremberg, assistant to the president for domestic policy and director of the Domestic Policy Council, discussed how the White House is organized, President Trump’s approach to policy and the administration’s view on a number of specific health care policy topics, including opioids, drug pricing and payment structures. He also discussed the White House’s alignment with the Department of Health and Human Services on Medicaid policy.
“We will be very forward-leaning on approving waivers (and) the changes states want to make to the Medicaid program,” Bremberg said, citing recent state waivers that include Medicaid work requirements. “A lot of payment and policy innovation comes up on Medicaid through the states.”
In a panel about how health care policy is influencing business strategies, Andy Bressler of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research and Eric Zimmerman of McDermott+Consulting discussed the health care provisions in the recent budget agreement, as well as the future of health care marketplaces, the Medicaid program and value-based care, among other topics. Zimmerman argued that, although Congressional Republicans failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and the Trump Administration took multiple steps to suppress enrollment — including reductions in marketing funding and navigators — the marketplaces have been “remarkably resilient” with nearly 12 million enrollees. He expects individual marketplaces will continue and we may see stabilization legislation in the near future.
“From a Republican perspective, as we head toward 2018 mid-term elections and 2019 open enrollment, the repeal of the individual mandate kicks in and there’s a concern that will bump premiums quite a bit. Speculation is premiums could be up 20 to 30 percent,” Bressler said. “Who’s to blame if you see another round of 20 to 30 percent increases? You can’t blame Democrats anymore. That’s a real pressure point coming up at the end of October and beginning of November.”
The day was bookended by keynote speeches from members of the media in Washington, D.C., kicking off with a keynote speech from Politico reporter Dan Diamond and closing with a dinner keynote from Fox News Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt. Diamond set the stage for the event by offering an inside look at what it’s like to cover health care policy in Washington, D.C. He discussed some of the top health policy stories on Capitol Hill, how he approaches investigative stories — including his investigation into former HHS Secretary Tom Price’s use of taxpayer funds for private jets, which led to Price’s resignation — and the first time his reporting was labeled “fake news.”
“You’re not a journalist in Washington unless your news is called fake,” he said.