Annual MHA Summit Highlights Tech Innovation, Drug Pricing Models

Managed Health Care Associates, Inc (MHA), a leading health care services and software company focused on the alternate site health care provider marketplace, presented its 16th Annual Business Summit in Las Vegas from March 6 to 8, 2019. This year’s summit also set the stage for a celebration of MHA’s 30th anniversary, which recognized 3 decades helping members manage costs, improve operational efficiencies, and grow their businesses.

The summit featured nationally known speakers who discussed digital innovations, patient- and outcomes-driven payment models, Medicare policy related to post-acute care and prescription drugs, the current legislative climate and disruptive innovation, among other topics affecting alternate site care providers. This article reviews selected sessions that took place during the 3-day summit.

Shantanu (Shan) Bhide, vice president of Technology at SoftWriters, an MHA company, served as moderator for an Industry Partner Technology Track session on advances in eHR/eMar solutions, dispensing methods, trends in packaging system integrations, and enhancements to LTC pharmacy operations and workflows. Digital health innovations and patient care optimization have great potential to advance each other, panelists noted, but providers must be educated.

With so much activity in the market and promises that digital innovations will help providers and patients alike, it is vital to ask critical questions, including whether the innovations are truly a fit for patients’ needs and lifestyles and whether they support smooth workflows.

Crowell and Moring’s Jim Flood, partner and chair of the Government Affairs Group, and Scott Douglas, senior policy director, provided a legislative update. With Democrats in control of the House and Republicans having a majority in the Senate—but not the 60 seats needed to pass legislation, “you have a really good recipe for gridlock in Washington,” Flood said. Still, many committees are introducing health care legislation and holding hearings. MHA has been very active in Washington, DC, tracking these committees and legislation daily, he noted.

Drug pricing remains a top issue that has been on the agenda for years, according to Douglas, with much talk but little action. However, the Trump administration has made drug pricing a priority and is doing what it can through rulemaking to try to manage it—and it will be doing more, he added.

Drug pricing issues on the administration’s agenda include reference pricing, rebate safe harbors, and altering Medicare Part D protected classes. The House is focusing efforts on anti-competitive behavior in the pharma industry, limiting pharma product exclusivity, and Medicare Part D price negotiation, while the Senate agenda includes the CREATES Act—bipartisan legislation that would allow generic companies to sue brand companies for failing to provide drug samples—and changes to the physician fee schedule for Part B drugs.

Legislative efforts affecting pharmacy include bills to kill direct and indirect remuneration fees and the Provider Status bill, which has yet to be reintroduced in the current Congress but has much support. Bills have also been introduced addressing drug price transparency, drug importation, and veterans’ health.

The pair concluded with a brief discussion of the 2020 election and the difficulties posed by a crowded Democratic field, the candidacy of Howard Schultz as an independent, and President Trump’s prospects for reelection.

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