The healthcare landscape is constantly changing, and to understand current healthcare policy, experts in the field are featured in this Federal Update podcast. Hear from: Michael H. Park, a partner at Alston & Bird and the ACOFP’s Director of Government Affairs; Hon. Earl Pomeroy, a former Congressman with extensive experience in healthcare policy; and Mark H. Rader, a senior healthcare policy advisor recognized as one of the top lobbyists.
The healthcare landscape is constantly evolving, with new policies and regulations shaping the way providers and patients interact. To gain a deeper understanding of the current state of healthcare policy, we turn to the Federal Update podcast, featuring three experts in the field:
- Michael H. Park, a partner at the law firm of Alston & Bird in Washington DC and ACOFP’s Director of Government Affairs.
- Hon. Earl Pomeroy, former congressman in the House of Representatives for North Dakota for 18 years. He has extensive experience in healthcare policy and served on the House Ways and Means Committee’s Health Subcommittee.
- Mark H. Rader, a senior healthcare policy advisor with Alston & Bird with a deep understanding of physician issues.
The Current Political Landscape
Congressman Pomeroy began the podcast with a discussion of macro issues on Capitol Hill. While the government is currently divided with only a narrow majority of Republicans in the House, there seems to be more openness to bipartisan agreement than in the recent past. One such area of potential agreement is transparency in healthcare costs, which would aim to provide the public with information on the costs charged by providers, empowering them to make informed decisions.
Another area where agreement could be reached is the regulation of pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs). Both parties have expressed dissatisfaction with PBMs. However, Congressman Pomeroy acknowledges that reaching agreements in a highly polarized political environment is challenging.
Spending is a driving force in health policy debates. Congress Pomeroy discussed the recent debate on whether the country would default on its debt and the subsequent need for a spending deal. The issue of spending continues to be a contentious one, with differing views between the parties. The looming deadline for reauthorizing spending further complicates matters, as Congress faces the risk of a government shutdown if a deal is not reached by September 30.
Healthcare Policy Priorities
Mark Rader takes a deeper dive into specific healthcare policy priorities. There has been an effort to get patients a better idea of what they’re paying upfront, primarily in the hospital space but in other areas as well. Reauthorization of the Support Act, which was passed 5 years ago with bipartisan support to address substance use disorders, is coming up as well. There are a lot of things Congress needs to find money for, including reauthorizing pandemic preparedness, at the same time that they’re trying to fund the government. If the spending bills aren’t passed by September 30, a provision in the debt ceiling deal says that continuing resolutions will only be funded at 99%.
Rader discusses the proposed 3.3% cut for 2024 under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, as well as the ongoing efforts to reform the Quality Payment Program mandated under MACRA. These issues have garnered attention from ACOFP members, who are concerned about the impact on their practices. Congress has started to critically examine MACRA, acknowledging the shortcomings of the program. A hearing was held to gather input from experts and explore potential reforms. Physicians in Congress are grouping together to offer legislation that would create a Medicare payment system that would be tied to inflation.
Congressman Pomeroy reiterated the importance of primary care medicine and the need to ensure adequate funding for this critical sector. While there is recognition of the importance of primary care medicine, the issue of funding remains a significant hurdle. He expresses hope that bipartisan policy achievements can be made but acknowledges the difficulties in achieving substantial reforms in the current political climate, with a presidential election year coming up.
What You Can Do
Active participation in federal advocacy efforts is crucial for ACOFP members to make an impact and ensure that the voice of family medicine physicians is heard. Members of Congress want to hear from you directly! Keep informed through the View from the Hill newsletter, which comes out every Friday. If you have questions about our advocacy efforts or anything advocacy related, please reach out to Advocacy@acofp.org