Archives     Advertise     Editorial Calendar     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

Alexander Visits Neighborhood Health at East Side in Nashville

VIDEO of United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) visiting the Neighborhood Health at East Side health center in Nashville, where he learned more about what the center is doing to provide access to health care services in urban, underserved areas of Nashville.

Read More

AMA Grants MycoDART CPT Code For Its Life-Saving Test

MycoDART, Inc., developer of proprietary DNA tests, announced its second patented assay has been granted a CPT code from the American Medical Association.

Read More

Low-level Alcohol Use Increases Miscarriage Risk

Women who consume alcohol during pregnancy -- even in small amounts -- have a 19% greater risk of miscarriage than women who don't use alcohol, according to a new study by Vanderbilt researchers.

Read More

Beating the Odds

Vanderbilt Children's Hospital researchers play key role in groundbreaking study.

Read More

Hot Topics in Healthcare Law

Never a dull moment ... the highly regulated nature of the healthcare industry keeps America's health lawyers hopping.

Read More

Vanderbilt Children's New Program Leaders, Rankings

Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt has recently welcomed new leaders to oversee specialty programming and again been recognized nationally in multiple specialties.

Read More

Insuring Kids

Local experts offer insight over ongoing coverage concerns for Tennessee children

Read More

Services for Mom & Baby Expanding at TriStar Centennial

Innovative initiatives at TriStar Centennial designed to keep mom and baby safe, together.

Read More

Another Option to Address Pediatric ADHD

NeuroSigma recently received FDA clearance for the first device to treat pediatric ADHD, offering providers, patients and parents a new alternative to medication.

Read More

Back to School Reminders for Patients & Providers

Back-to-school season is here, and it's a great time to talk to patients and parents about starting off the year with healthy habits

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: