5 Things CA: Two trends, AHCA Senate vote, Jason Burke

As summer arrives with its first heat wave, we also get closer to a Senate vote on the AHCA. But we’re keeping our eyes on a lot of other things this month. Here’s 5 Things We’re Watching for June.

1.  Two important trends in health care

Sen. Lara’s single payer bill, SB 562, has varying levels of importance depending on one’s perspective.  On the one hand, if passed, it’s likely to be vetoed by a governor that doesn’t have $400 billion lying around. On the other, it’s increasingly clear that something like a single payer is becoming the most likely political response from the left to the AHCA.

That said, I think the momentum there is in conflict with a second policy trend, that of integrating care across physical and behavioral health.  Or, perhaps more specifically, rather than in conflict, they operate at cross purposes – one moving horizontally and one moving vertically within the system.  This post lays out my thinking more clearly, but it concludes with this timeless challenge in a world of finite resources:  you can’t have both.

2.  “There’s a group of guys in a backroom somewhere”

Reports say that Sen. Mitch McConnell will bring up the Senate health care bill before the July 4th recess, whether he has the votes or not. To get a CBO score on the bill, that means that the Senate has to conclude negotiations this week.

Putting that kind of pressure on his colleagues for a bill it’s not clear McConnell even wants is truly astonishing. Sen. McCaskill’s (D-MO) recent comments put that frustration into words. Congress worked on the ACA, for better or worse, for over 300 days.

No bill of this economic and political magnitude has come to the floor for an up or down vote in the Senate and then failed since perhaps the failure of the League of Nations vote and the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

3.  Podcasts:  CA Legislative Dems, Reps

At our recent event in Sacramento, we hosted health care legislative leadership from both parties who took the time to talk through how things are playing out in the capitol.  Sen. Hernandez and Asm. Wood talk through the Democrats’ view on California state health policy here.  Republican legislators Asm. Frank Bigelow and Asm. Jim Patterson join the podcast here.

If you are subscribed to our podcast, then you got these when they first came out.  If you aren’t subscribed, they are now a few weeks old. Sounds like a good reason to get subscribed, right?

4.  Video: Jason Burke, 3M

You may not think of 3M as a health care player, but that’s ok.  Google does, and is partnering with them on their Verily initiative.  They are also the backbone of the DRG coding system that runs throughout American health care.

Jason Burke is the Vice President of Data Informatics at 3M Health Information Systems.  In this edition of “What They’re Watching,” Jason talks through how 3M is using technology to reduce waste in health care through their recent partnership with Verily.

5. The enduring issue of drug costs

The Association for Accessible Medicines released their 2017 Generic Drug Access & Savings in the US report which found that generic drugs saved the US $253b last year. California saw the highest savings, with $21.7b.

Of course, generics produce these savings because they aren’t responsible for the same R&D costs as brand name drug manufacturers. But the Legislature is looking to understand, and contain, high drug prices that are often attributed to those costs. The Senate passed a drug cost transparency bill, which has a hearing scheduled in the Assembly Health Committee early next week.