Leavitt Partners Future Frame Series – Political Checkpoint: An Inflection Point
On June 24, Leavitt Partners hosted a LinkedIn Live broadcast titled “Political Checkpoint: An Inflection Point” featuring Josh Trent, Jennifer Colamonico, and moderated by Andrew Croshaw. Josh and Jen discussed the political inflection point we are in as the country emerges from the pandemic and the Administration and Congress work on health policy priorities ahead of the 2022 midterms. The speakers also shared insights into how health policy developments—including those that do not always make the headlines—have significant impacts on healthcare stakeholders.
Major health policies have been enacted during the COVID-19 public health emergency
Throughout the last 16 months, the public health emergency (PHE) led to major, though currently mostly temporary, changes across the healthcare landscape. When the PHE ends, whether and how these changes become permanent will have lasting impacts on our healthcare system.
- Broad (though temporary) expansion of telehealth: The public health emergency led to a massive expansion in telehealth services and reimbursement for publicly and privately insured patients. While many agree some of these flexibilities should be extended, the debate over reimbursement is more complicated than you might imagine.
- Expanded role of Medicaid: Medicaid services were expanded to include coverage of COVID-19 related costs and states had new incentives to include additional low-income adults. States taking additional federal financial support have to comply with strict rules to maintain current eligibility thresholds and processes. States are working with this temporary expansion of their roles, as well as developing strategies for redeterminations of eligibility when the public health emergency will end.
- ACA subsidy expansion (temporary): The American Rescue Plan Act included new federal subsidies to address affordability concerns for millions of Americans (including a new special enrollment period). This creates a pressure point for supporters of the policy to take action in 2022 (or sooner) to make subsidies permanent.
As the U.S. emerges from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we begin to have clarity on policy developments in the second half of 2021. We are watching four developments from across the federal government:
- Congress to Advance Major Bills in Q3 and Q4: There appears to be an infrastructure plan on a bipartisan path, although its success is not yet certain. Congress continues to debate funding and policy priorities not only across parties but within the majority. There is additional opportunity with the FY 2022 appropriations, as a 50-vote budget reconciliation package could include major health care policies.
- Health Priorities Possibly in Budget Reconciliation: With the slimmest of majorities, the Senate and House majorities will try to leverage reconciliation to advance their health policy agenda. Priorities for reconciliation are likely to include several measures to improve affordability of and access to care, although the details of the proposals are not at all clear:
- Tackling prescription drug pricing
- Adding dental and vision coverage to Medicare
- Reducing the age of eligibility for Medicare
- Making the ACA subsidies permanent
- Biden & HHS Advancing Agenda: The Biden Administration maintains its focus on COVID-19 management, ACA stabilization, affordability, and health equity. HHS leadership is settling into place, leveraging new Medicaid waiver priorities, Medicare annual rules, and CMMI models to chart a new direction for value. Additionally, HHS is actively considering the appropriate timing to end the PHE—likely to last through the end of this year—which will have a variety of implications on healthcare stakeholders, including COVID-19 relief and telehealth reimbursement.
Beyond The Headlines: What Healthcare Leaders Should Know
While we all try news unfolding each day, it is equally important (though more difficult) to track the less visible structural dynamics that often do not make the headlines but have important implications for healthcare leaders. Key developments to watch that are both in and out of the headlines include potential changes to Medicare through annual payment rules, regulations, and CMMI.
For those who lack the time or the ability to track important federal policy developments, Leavitt Partners’ D.C. Direct provides tailored weekly policy intelligence updates and insights to help guide your strategic planning. Each week, you receive two email briefings and spend 45 minutes on our Thursday D.C. Pulse webinar providing focused intelligence and analysis from Washington, D.C., on legislation, administrative rules and guidance, and personnel. Clients also receive quarterly strategy and update calls with senior Leavitt Partners staff. The full webinar is on our LinkedIn page to view and/or share with a colleague.
Our mission at Leavitt Partners is to advance value to make health care more affordable, sustainable, and effective. We invite community members and industry experts to join us in future dialogue on the healthcare climate. View our upcoming schedule of Future Frame discussions here; our next broadcast will be on Friday, July 16, as Andrew Croshaw, Jeremy Bahr, and other Leavitt Partners experts will discuss the key trends and the outlook for the pharmaceutical industry. To get alerts whenever we begin a live broadcast, go to the Leavitt Partners Linked In page and follow us.