Archives     Advertise     Editorial Calendar      Advertiser Index     Subscribe     Contact Us    


HHS Secretary Addresses Nashville Health Care Council Audience


 
NHCC roundtable and event at Lipscomb University on September 27, 2018. Photo by Donn Jones.

On Thursday, Sept. 27, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II addressed members of the Nashville Health Care Council, sharing thoughts and updates on healthcare coverage in America at an event held at Lipscomb University.

After an introduction by Gov. Bill Haslam, Secretary Azar took to the podium and shared his pleasure with addressing Health Care Council members on their "home turf" after running into them across the globe throughout his two decades in HHS leadership. "There's a reason that Nashville healthcare leaders have kept popping up throughout my career," he said. "It's because Nashville has become a thriving hub for healthcare innovation." Pointing to the diverse ecosystem, he added, "So much of what is great about American healthcare is in evidence here in Nashville - the zeal for innovation, the respect for patient choice and the harnessing of market forces to improve care."

Calling the Affordable Care Act a failed example of wielding government regulation and intervention in an attempt to improve healthcare, Azar said the law instead fostered skyrocketing costs and disappearing choice. "But today, I am here to share with you some good news," he continued.

He said premiums have begun to stabilize, and consumers are seeing growing choices, including more options for short-term, limited-duration insurance and expanded access to association health plans. He added that President Trump moved quickly to give states more flexibility in delivering healthcare to their citizens.

Touting the president's business acumen and willingness to work with the private sector, Azar said there is "clear evidence" that such an approach works "even within a failed system like ACA."

Noting that many in the audience had probably already heard premium projections for the federal exchange have stabilized, he said there is actually even better news. "We are announcing today that, for the very first time under the Affordable Care Act, the premium for a benchmark federal exchange plan is projected to drop," Azar stated. "Insurers have proposed to cut premiums for these benchmark plans by 2 percent nationally. Meanwhile, the number of federal exchange insurers will grow for the first time since 2015." He added, "Here in Tennessee, the proposed benchmark rate will drop by 26 percent ... more than a quarter."

He noted the president has approved a number of state reinsurance plans, citing Maryland as a successful example where rates had been projected to rise significantly. "But in large part thanks to our approval of the reinsurance program last week, Maryland's insurance commissioner announced the rates will now drop by 13 percent," Azar said.

"Despite these positive signs, we still face major challenges. Fundamentally, the individual market for insurance is still broken," he stated, adding he believes the ACA isn't "fixed" or even "fixable" but should instead be repealed and replaced.

Azar noted that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it and said the notion of "Medicare for All" would repeat "failed ideas on all of American healthcare."

He added, "The main thrust of Medicare for All is giving you a new government plan and taking away your other choices." Azar also said he was concerned about the financial undermining of the current system for seniors. "The core financing of any Medicare for All plan is putting everyone on a plan that pays providers these lower Medicare rates."

Azar opined that the lower reimbursement would either drive physicians from the field or into a position where they only accept cash. "A large private insurance market that rewards the best doctors is vital to sustaining the access that seniors have under Medicare today," he stated. "It's simple math: Higher payments from commercial insurers help doctors take on seniors whose Medicare plans pay less. It's far from an ideal system, but a single government system would completely unravel it, without a theory for how seniors' access would be protected."

He also said moving to a single government healthcare delivery system would come with enormous hard costs to set up and implement. "It is reckless to propose more than tripling the size of Medicare with no clear way to pay for it when we haven't even agreed on responsible ways to maintain the current program for our seniors," he said.

Saying that Americans want choice, Azar advocated for "sending power back to the American people - to states, to local communities, to your doctors, and to you, as American patients. Empowering the decision-makers closest to patients is both the way of the future and a return to what we love about American healthcare."

 
Share:

Related Articles:


Recent Articles

New Study Identifies Gaps in Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder as Overdose Emergencies Soar

Opioid overdose deaths have reached record highs and emergency physicians have a vital role in potentially saving these patients by prescribing Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) such as buprenorphine, and by prescribing naloxone, a rapid-acting medicine to reverse an overdose.

Read More

HealthStream Acquires Rievent Technologies

Leveraging its hStream open architecture, HealthStream expands its ecosystem with a powerful continuing education management and delivery application

Read More

INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY: LOCAL PEDIATRICIAN TERRI WHITE DEDICATES TIME TO HELP CHILDREN WORLDWIDE

International Volunteer Day is a global celebration of volunteers. It takes place every year on December 5 to shine a light on the impact of volunteer efforts everywhere.

Read More

Tivity Health Takes Meaningful Steps to Keep Seniors Engaged, Connected

At first glance, SilverSneakers might appear to be 'just' a fitness class ... but dig a bit deeper, and it's clear this class is actually a community keeping participants active and engaged.

Read More

AMA Adopts Policy to Combat Public Health Disinformation by Health Care Professionals

New policy aims to address spread of rampant disinformation amid COVID-19 pandemic

Read More

AMA Adopts Policy Aimed at Strengthening U.S. Public Health Infrastructure, Opposing Limits Placed on Public Health Officials

New policy calls for consistent, sustainable funding, a robust public health workforce, and data modernization

Read More

Managing Risk of Cyber Incidents

Cyber threats are here to stay -- and they continue to be one of the topics keeping senior management up at night. With breaches and ransomware attacks still occurring at high rates, the healthcare industry continues to be significantly impacted.

Read More

American Cancer Society, Meharry Team Up to Change the Narrative

Meharry Medical College is one of four HBCUs partnering with the American Cancer Society.

Read More

Navigating Cancer Care

Nashville startup Thyme Care is proving to be an innovator in the cancer navigation space.

Read More

ONcology Rounds

New treatments, research and leadership - Middle Tennessee has a lot going on in oncology care.

Read More

Email Print
 
 

 

 


Tags:
ACA, Affordable Care Act, Alex Azar, CMS, Federal Health Exchange, Health and Human Services, HHS, Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare for All, Reinsurance
Powered by Bondware
News Publishing Software

The browser you are using is outdated!

You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!

Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: