RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 01/25/2016

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How Hillarycare Did & Didn't Lead to Obamacare
Sahil Kapur, Bloomberg
It's an oversimplification, as Obama's plan more closely resembles the Massachusetts overhaul signed into law in 2006 by the state's then-governor, Mitt Romney, Obama's Republican opponent in 2012. But people who helped write the Affordable Care Act give Clinton credit for laying the political groundwork that helped Obama succeed where her husband, former President Bill Clinton, failed.

'Medicare for All' May Not Help Working Seniors
Heidi Przybyla, USAT
Yet, under his plan, the nation’s 8.5 million seniors over the age of 65 and already eligible for Medicare would also get hit with tax increases. With more of the nation’s baby boom generation working into traditional retirement years, the concern is that the costs to seniors are higher than Sanders' plan suggests.

President Pushes ACA As Enrollment Deadline Nears
Mark Hensch, Hill
President Obama on Saturday touted the successes of his signature healthcare law, just days before the deadline for enrolling in 2016 ObamaCare coverage ends on Jan. 31.

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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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Q&A: Marilyn Tavenner on AHIP's Way Forward
Modern Healthcare
Now, Tavenner is faced with the task of coaxing two of the largest U.S. health insurers back to the fold. UnitedHealth Group, the largest health insurer in the nation, dropped out of AHIP just before she was hired, and Aetna quit this month. Tavenner addressed the challenges ahead of AHIP and its members during an interview last week.

Employee Wellness Programs Increasingly Use Sticks
Reed Abelson, NYT
Workers increasingly are being told by their companies to undergo health screenings and enroll in wellness programs, as a way to curb insurance costs. Many employees now face stiff financial penalties — often in the form of higher premiums — if they do not have their cholesterol checked or join programs to lose weight or better manage diabetes.

Some Employer Plans Exclude Outpatient Surgeries
Jay Hancock, KHN
Last year regulators blocked companies with millions of lower-wage workers from claiming that coverage with no inpatient hospital benefits met Obamacare’s strictest standard for large employers. Now that those so-called “skinny plans” aren’t allowed, insurance administrators and many cost-conscious employers are purporting to meet the rules with a new version that excludes another major category: outpatient surgery.

Fight to Lower Prices Forces Some To Switch Rx
Alison Kodjak, NPR
Express Scripts and its rivals including CVS/Caremark and OptumRX manage prescription drug coverage for insurers and employers. They're trying to spark price wars among drug makers by refusing to pay for some brand-name medications unless they get a big discount.

Are Bigger Insurers Really Better?
Paul von Ebers, Health Affairs Blog
Three broad reasons have been proposed by the insurers for these acquisitions: scale economies, negotiating leverage in hospital and physician contracting, and diversification. But scale economies, where fixed assets and overhead decrease with firm size, are very uncertain in health insurance mergers. Some deals create leverage with providers, and some won’t. Some mergers will add or create “best in class” capabilities, and some won’t.

U.S. Health Care Less 'Private' Than You Might Think
R. Knox, WBUR
The proportion of U.S. health care paid by tax funds is (a) less than 30 percent, (b) about half or (c) more than 60 percent. If you picked “more than 60 percent,” you’re right — but you’re also pretty unusual.

What Can Be Done to Increase Organ Transplants
Tinker Ready, HLM
A transplant surgeon says the lack of organs is "a national health crisis." Registering donors is "part of our responsibility as caregivers," says an executive of a state hospital association that has developed a registry program.

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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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