It’s been a busy week in healthcare:
New rules are out from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury Department that reclassify drugs used to treat chronic conditions (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or depression) as preventive; clearing the way for coverage under a Health Savings Account (HSA)-compliant health plan before patients hit their deductible (see our new compliance update). This change, long sought by patient advocates, will improve compliance and no doubt result in better health outcomes. Value-based care guidelines show that proper compliance with a medicine regime reduces the likelihood that medical conditions will advance to more costly stages.
And yesterday, the House voted to repeal the Cadillac Tax which was scheduled to be imposed in 2022 on employers offering high-cost healthcare. This repeal has strong bipartisan support and 42 senators have cosponsored the Senate companion bill. However, the House bill lacks a pay-for provision, so there is some opposition to clear before passage. The tax, which would apply to far more employers than anticipated by the Obama administration, has already been delayed several times. Severe non-deductible excise taxes would effectively put a hard cap on dollars employers would be willing to spend on healthcare and may force some employers out entirely.
But, there has been a reversal on aggressive pharmacy actions by the president. Changes eliminating drug rebates on federally-funded programs as well as requiring pricing disclosure on pharmacy ads were rescinded…
The partisan divide has created a great deal of action in the courts and seemingly the courts have become a front line in crafting healthcare policy. The courts are often accused of overstepping boundaries because legislation is supposed to come from Congress. At least one U.S. appeals court judge asserted that it is not the courts legislating but rather the politicians pushing the limit, requiring judges to make the law. Pointedly, he said when asked about the pending federal action to repeal Obamacare: “Why does Congress want the judiciary to be a taxidermist for every big-game legislative accomplishment it achieves?”
Like all pendulums, balance will eventually be restored. Hopefully.