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Aytan Dahukey is a partner in the Corporate Practice Group in the firm’s Century City Office.

The 2019 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference did not see multiple blockbuster announcements like in some earlier years but instead showcased an industry hard at work calmly and meaningfully trying to address and innovate to solve the industry’s structural, systemic and demographic challenges. We saw some companies trying to respond to the current fragmentation of healthcare delivery and financing through expansion of their vertical continuum, while others continued to strive to use technological solutions to shift behaviors and close gaps. There frankly was little question that the industry is continuing to move toward value-based and risk-based reimbursement – the challenge now is building or buying the necessary infrastructure, educating stakeholders and obtaining commitment and engagement, and structuring appropriate partnerships and relationships with other industry participants. We expect the pace of acquisitions and alliances to continue at current or higher levels as the industry repositions for this reimbursement shift. Similarly, the industry appears ready to innovate with artificial intelligence and machine learning, as incumbent technology providers develop new products and strategy and disruption is expected from new market entrants.

There also was no panic nor concerns voiced in the presentations we attended about the Affordable Care Act or the other possible results of the current political situation. Rather, several presenters noted that the exchange population relatively is minimal in size as compared to the commercial and Medicare/Medicaid markets. With exchange enrollment holding relatively steady and many plans reaching profitability with their exchange products, plans and providers are looking instead to the coming massive transformation of the commercial and federal products markets as risk further proliferates.
Continue Reading Day 3 Notes from the 2019 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference

What is Quality Anyways?: James Hinton, the CEO of Baylor Scott and White, got a good laugh from the audience when he said that he was proud to be one of the five or six hundred hospitals in the nation’s top 100 hospitals. And looking at the multiple “ego wall” slides we saw in day one and day two of the conference, all of which systems or companies were recognized for their outstanding quality and achievements, it brings to mind the old Lake Woebegon comment by Garrison Keillor that their town is a place where all of the children are above average. As some/many may ask, if everyone is doing so well per the awards, then how is it that we as a nation are not doing well with our health and our healthcare system? Is it just “those other guys” who are not winning those awards that are so far below average and dragging us all down in quality and exceeding in costs? Perhaps there is a place for some new thinking on measuring quality based on meeting patient goals, rather than third party quality organization goals. Put another way, healthcare today still is focusing more on process than results. Did you get your mammogram is the question, rather than did you make it another year without succumbing to a major disease.
Continue Reading Day 2 Notes from the 2019 JPMorgan Healthcare Conference

Please Don’t Poke the Baby – Sharing a best practice and talking about taking a local hospital learning and turning it into a systemwide approach, Mark Harrison of Intermountain Healthcare shared the fact that taking fewer blood samples from neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) babies was shown to lead to less infections in the NICU and on average a two week earlier discharge from the NICU. Who knew?

Drug Pricing – Drug pricing was on many lips today. Intermountain Healthcare launched Civica to address generic drug pricing and reported that it had approximately 500 hospital members now. More than one-third of US hospitals (!!) have inquired about joining Civica, which provides an exclamation point on the issue of generic drug pricing and availability. Mark Harrison of Intermountain said that products would start being available in 2019. He also noted that Civica doesn’t have to produce pills if the generic manufacturers will engage appropriately. Teva predicted generic drug market stabilization in their presentation today, which was also noted in the Walgreens Boots presentation as well. Walgreens Boots thought that the pace of cost reduction has slowed though. Let’s see who wins this game of “chicken.” Also today, Northwell announced that they were launching their own pharmacy benefit management (PBM) operation. We expect to see a lot of realignment and new entries in the PBM space, given the recent mergers and other activity (CVS/Aetna, Cigna/ESI, Anthem/IngenioRx). Much of the PBM space is being rethought now as its scope can expand to chronic condition management (an objective highlighted by Cigna today) or to medical benefits management as ESI is hoping with its recent acquisition of eviCore.
Continue Reading Day 1 Notes on the 2019 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference

As you may have seen in our recent article on the Labor and Employment Law Blog, the California Supreme Court recently issued a landmark decision in the case of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court. (The full text of the Dynamex decision can be found here.) In its ruling, the Court establishes a standard that makes it extremely difficult for companies (or individuals) in California to properly classify their workers as independent contractors.
Continue Reading Healthcare Industry Companies Must Be Wary of Classifying Any Workers As Independent Contractors, In Light of the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex Ruling

San Francisco (January 11, 2018) – The final day of the 2018 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference gave us food for thought about the topic of healthcare navigation, as well as updates on the home health sector. Post-acute has become the focus of more attention, especially with the recently announced purchase by Humana of Kindred’s home health business. Genesis Healthcare’s presentation today also shared that they (the largest skilled nursing facility (SNF) operator in the U.S.) were at 84.6% occupancy and, given the growth in senior citizens, expected the SNF industry to run out of beds somewhere between 2020 and 2025. That’s a daunting forecast and clearly also emphasizes the importance of home health. But first, let’s look at the interesting topic of patient engagement and healthcare navigation.
Continue Reading Day 4 Notes on the 2018 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference

San Francisco (Wednesday, January 10, 2018) – The third afternoon of the conference was a deep dive into data and analytics, with successive presentations by IBM Watson Health, Inovalon and AthenaHealth and an earlier morning presentation by Chinese genomics company BGI. Significant progress was reported and, interestingly, the more these companies (and others like them) can do, the more that the market expands with new requests and newly discovered needs (a la “what can you really use a tablet for anyway?”). Inovalon reported that the total addressable market has grown in their estimation from $84 billion (as calculated back in 2014) to $142 billion as of 2018. Breaking that down, they believe that there currently is about $40 billion of demand from the provider sector, $51 billion from pharma/life sciences, $17 billion from payors and $33 billion from consumers.
Continue Reading Day 3 Notes on the 2018 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference

San Francisco (Tuesday, January 9, 2018): Day 2 of the 2018 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference provided concrete examples of the trends that have been discussed in recent years – the impact of shifting healthcare delivery modalities on hospitals, the opportunity for retail medicine, the need for more effective management of chronic conditions and the increasing relevance of the Chinese markets. While some attendees complained about a lack of blockbuster announcements, today’s presentations were intriguing as an example of how the consulting and conference recommendations of the 2010 – 2014 period now are being played out in the real world of healthcare today. As the CEO of Advocate Health Care said, with tongue in cheek and quoting Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming….” and healthcare delivery will become even more difficult. There also was cause for optimism as well, as we saw multiple vibrant strategies for growth, including a continuing shift to value-based and risk-based reimbursement structures.
Continue Reading Notes on Day 2 of the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference

San Francisco (Monday, January 8, 2018): Outside it was raining heavily today in San Francisco, but inside the 2018 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference the weather was distinctly sunny. Nary a hint of gloom or pessimism was heard today from the hospitals and health plans presenting at the conference, even after the joys of last year’s “repeal and replace,” tax “relief” and the multiple redirections from CMS. Instead, we saw optimism, continuing implementation of prior strategic plans and, generally, continuing consensus of the need for greater scale; more analytics, digital engagement, big data and artificial intelligence; more population health management; and value-based/risk-based arrangements. Here’s some highlights from today’s proceedings:
Continue Reading Day 1 Notes from the 2018 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco

In a proposed rule published Tuesday, August 15, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its intention to roll back a handful of payment models introduced under the Obama Administration. If implemented, the rule would cancel the Episode Payment Models (EPMs) and Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) Incentive Payment Model, each currently set to begin next year. The rule would also cut the number of mandatory participation locations in the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model from 67 to 34.
Continue Reading CMS Aims to Nix Obama-Era Payment Models

Dr. Mario Molina, CEO of Molina Healthcare, discusses the implications of potential cuts to cost sharing reduction payments under the Affordable Care Act by the Trump Administration.  Cost sharing reduction payments are viewed by many as essential in the provision of healthcare to low income individuals as they help to reduce co-pays and deductibles that may otherwise be out of reach for many.  Dr. Molina distills the issue into lay terms and provides some insight into the future of the government’s involvement in the healthcare markets under the new administration.
Continue Reading CEO of Molina Healthcare Discusses Implications of Cuts to Affordable Care Act