- A Mercer poll of employers showed that more than half of the respondents said they were relieved that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) failed, Employee Benefit News reports.
- About 24% of respondents told Mercer they were “very relieved” and 32% said they were “relieved” that the AHCA lacked enough congressional votes to pass, says EBN. Only 5% of respondents said they were “very disappointed” about the bill’s failure and 16% were “disappointed.” GOP congressional lawmakers, backed by the Trump administration, promoted the bill as the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) replacement.
- Controlling pharmaceutical costs topped employer wish lists for healthcare change, says EBN. Making prices more transparent and keeping Medicaid funding were other desired initiatives.
The bill, which faced an uphill battle from its very inception, failed to reach a vote last month. The replacement bill did not address some of the more burdensome aspects of the ACA for employers, such as the reporting requirements and the “Cadillac” tax.
Most employers are working to curb healthcare costs by focusing on the quality of health service outcomes rather than on the frequency of services and by offering employees health savings plans and high-deductible plans. But the call for assistance over pharmaceutical costs reflects last year's National Business Group on Health study that showed specialty pharmacy is the current top driver of medical spend for employers nationwide.
Addressing the high cost of pharmaceuticals is a hard task for employers and consumers, as it is based on complex deal-making that employers may feel they have little control over. That's why many employers are turning to lawmakers and pharmaceutical companies for assistance. Experts and business groups have suggested changing Medicare and Medicaid rules over drug pricing and encouraging biopharmaceutical competition as ways to stem costs.
Either way, the demand for specialty pharmacy will continue to rise, especially as improved treatments become available and workers continue to work well past the usual retirement age.