RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 01/22/2016

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Clinton: Obamacare Was Originally 'Hillarycare'
Sarah Ferris, The Hill
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton is out with a new defense of her healthcare record — rival Bernie Sanders may have helped write ObamaCare, but it was her idea first. "It was called Hillarycare before it was called Obamacare,” Clinton told a crowd of supporters at a country club in Vinton, Iowa. “I don't want to start over."

Obama Administration Works to Fix Co-Ops
Stephanie Armour, WSJ
An Obama administration official said Thursday the government is taking steps to help health cooperatives set up under the Affordable Care Act remain solvent, while seeking to recoup federal funds from those that failed.

Republicans Say Government Mismanaged Co-ops
Robert Pear, NYT
Republican senators charged Thursday that the Obama administration had missed warning signs of financial distress at nonprofit health insurance cooperatives that failed last year, but a top federal official denied that the government had been negligent in its supervision.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are helping people understand how to use their health benefits so they can get the right medication for them at the most affordable price. Learn more.

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Some Patient Groups Mum on High Drug Prices
Jayne O'Donnell, USAT
Drug companies provide so much of the funding for major patient groups that many critics say they've stifled a key voice in the policy debate over soaring drug prices, especially over those for cancer.

Gov't Funds Almost 2/3 of Health Care Spending
Joyce Frieden, MedPage
The percentage of federal, state, and local taxpayer funding of healthcare expenditures rose from 59.8% in 1999 to 64.3% in 2013, and is projected to increase to 67.1% by 2024, according to David Himmelstein, MD, and Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH, both of City University of New York School of Public Health at Hunter College in New York City. The study appeared online in the American Journal of Public Health.

Average ACA Monthly Premium Rises to $408
Peter Sullivan, The Hill
The average ObamaCare premium rose to $408 per month for 2016 plans, about a 9 percent increase from this time last year, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services. However, 83 percent of ObamaCare enrollees pay far less than $408 because they get tax credits under the healthcare law.

Providers Balk at Proposed Post-Acute Measures
Virgil Dickson, MH
The CMS is proposing new measures to better track frequency of care and spending in skilled-nursing facilities, home health agencies, inpatient rehabilitation facilities and long-term-care hospitals in an effort to curb rising costs.

Bundled Pay for Joints Could Boost Quality
Tinker Ready, HealthLeaders
Some organizations grumbled about CMS's proposed rule on bundled payments for hip and knee replacements, but now that the final rule—with some concessions to providers— is out, the push for better quality outcomes is on.

Supplemental Benefits Under Medicare Advantage
Christopher Pope, HA
Medicare Advantage has grown rapidly since the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act, and now covers 17 million or 33 percent of the 54 million Medicare beneficiaries — up from 13 percent a decade ago. This option allows seniors and the disabled to receive their Medicare benefits from a choice of private health care plans, instead of a single benefit structure managed directly by the federal government through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Reporting Employee Weight & Stress Levels
Ike Swetlitz, Stat
Do you know how stressed Merck employees are? How about the average body mass index of workers at IBM? Soon, you might. Several giants of global industry, including Novo Nordisk, Johnson & Johnson, and PepsiCo, on Friday joined forces with nonprofit health advocacy groups to call for businesses large and small to publish information about the health of their employees.

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Making the most of your prescription drug benefits helps you get healthy faster and stay healthy longer, while keeping costs in check. Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are helping people understand how to maximize their benefits so they can get the effective medicines they need at the most affordable price. Learn more.

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