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  • Julie Barnes

February 11, 2022

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters in Health Information Policy


In a Valentine’s Day-themed Superbowl, it is appropriate that the game is about two couples: the older, but newlywed Rams’ Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, and younger but been-together-since-college Bengals’ Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. That may be why Lay’s potato chip company decided to put Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd together for a bromantic Superbowl commercial. This is what health care policy is missing right now -- marriages of talented people coming together to make our system better. More about that in the One Thoughtful Paragraph.

Some news about other moments of togetherness:

  • The proposed merger of cloud-computing giant Oracle and Kansas City-based electronic health record company Cerner is such a big-deal marriage that the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice are looking into antitrust concerns.

  • A new partnership between the pharmacy benefit management division of behavioral health management company Magellan Health and Zipline, who will deliver prescription medications via drones for Magellan, came quickly after Centene got together with Magellan.

  • The telehealth unicorn Thirty Madison is merging with women's-focused digital health startup Nurx, which reflects -- according to STAT News -- an increasingly competitive landscape in the world of digital pharmacy.

One Thoughtful Paragraph


Even though it is very hot there, people in Los Angeles were able to focus on putting the great talents of Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp together. We should do that to solve our serious healthcare data problems. Over the past several months, great titans of the healthcare policy expert society have been duking it out in Health Affairs (this is the peer-reviewed, nonpartisan journal where health nerds play football) over how to fix the Medicare Advantage program -- which is, ultimately, a data problem. Well-respected thought leaders, including but not limited to Rick Gilfillan, Don Berwick, Rick Kronick, George Halvorson, Don Crane, Michael Chernew, and David Lansky, have all weighed in on how to get more value out of our expensive healthcare system. There is much at play here, but we will boil down the arguments into one problem to solve: how proper risk adjustment requires better data. Basically, how can we more accurately determine how to match up sick people with the care they need, and incentivize the industry players to follow through? Luckily, CMS seems to agree that this is what we should be focused on. In its Advance Notice of Medicare Advantage policy changes, CMS asked for comments on how to enhance its risk adjustment model and develop new measures that demonstrate how MA plans are driving quality through value-based models with providers. Indeed, back in September 2021, CMS published this supplemental material to its Measures Management System Blueprint, explaining that there are limitations in data sources to achieve proper risk adjustment. If Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart can get together for a Superbowl commercial -- can’t we get our experts to come together to solve our healthcare data problems?

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