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Healthcare Policy Trends: What’s Ahead for 2023

Legislators returned to Sacramento on January 4th, 2023, to kick off a new two-year legislative cycle, which began with Governor Newsom presenting his 2023-2024 state budget proposal on January 10th.

While there continue to be major issues to address, such as homelessness, housing, and climate change, among others, newly elected physician legislators, like Jasmeet Bains (D-Bakersfield), are prioritizing additional challenges. 

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She has introduced a bill to create a task force addressing the fentanyl addiction crisis in the Central Valley—one of the hardest hit areas in the state. The task force would oversee access to healthcare, addiction, rehabilitation services, and methods to effectively get fentanyl off the streets.

She stated, “I think the biggest reality that we see up here in Sacramento is a failure of the Legislature to actively control our drug problem, our drug crisis.”

Legislators will have until February 17th to introduce their bill proposals. Thereafter begins the vetting process of bills through committee hearings and floor votes to ultimately make it on to the governor’s desk.

On the national level, additional healthcare-related trends and issues will become more prevalent.

What to Watch in 2023:

Expect continued scrutiny of Medicare Advantage programs in 2023. With more than 40% of Medicare-eligible adults relying on it for their care, the program is here to stay. Stakeholders and policy makers will look at the many factors affecting this program, including utilization management, prior authorization, revenue generation, and coding practices. They may examine how major insurers continue to refine the program as it captures more of the older population. Federal regulations are typically adopted by insurers as industry standards, so it may be important to see if there are any shifts in policies affecting these programs.

There is also a fast-growing enthusiasm of private equity and venture capital firms entering the healthcare space. As medical group and hospital consolidations continue, more external buyers are purchasing healthcare firms as investments. Although high interests rates and the uncertain economic forecast can impact this year's opportunities, private equity firms may continue their trend of buying medical groups and seeking substantial returns on their investments. 

COVID-19 will continue to make its way through the population and remain a part of the national care delivery landscape in the foreseeable future, bringing with it the ripple effect of 2+ years of decreases in visits for preventative healthcare and chronic disease. We see it now with the continued overflow of patients in emergency departments. Hospitals and managed care organizations should expect a continued surge in the volume of sicker patients and clients who experience COVID imposed delays in care.

Above all, the healthcare system will have to continue to address the toll that COVID-19 has taken on its workers. In a tightening labor market, healthcare organizations will begin to look at the underlying causes for “burnout” in their systems. Healthcare organizations must begin to fix it. Over the past several years, the topic of burnout has been gaining attention and generating discussions about individually-centered solutions. But it now seems to be the time to look for systemic, administrative, and operational solutions.

While these factors feel very daunting and broad in scope, keeping track of how they develop and evolve
is critical as they potentially move into the policy-making space.   

Gabriela Villanueva is CAP’s Government and External Affairs Analyst. Questions or comments related to this article should be directed to