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Katie is the Director of Health Policy at ML Strategies in the firm’s DC office. She primarily provides advice and guidance on issues relating to Medicaid, Medicare, and dually eligible beneficiaries.

Today, the White House released its FY 2019 budget proposal, outlining its policy priorities for the fiscal year. In health care, the President’s budget focuses on prescription drug pricing and opioid funding. It included a number of legislation proposals relating to Medicare Part D, as well as the creation of a Medicaid demonstration allowing states to test new financing structures to cover prescription drugs. The proposal also discusses the future of the Affordable Care Act, including the Medicaid expansion, as well as appropriating cost-sharing reduction payments for FY 2018 through the end of calendar year 2019. Proposals in the budget that are regulatory in nature are certainly items worth monitoring since its likely they would be approved and implemented under this Administration.

We cover this and more in the budget analysis, which can be found here.

 

 

This week, the President’s FY 2019 budget will be released, and the Administration will spend the next couple of weeks touting its goals. How this activity is received in Congress will play out in various committee hearings, as will issues like drug pricing, which the Administration is closely examining.  On the regulatory side, is this the week that we finally see action on short-term limited duration insurance plans? We cover what that could mean and more in this week’s health care preview.

Based on the most up-to-date information on the budget deal, we have developed a new timeline for the major health care extenders. This new timeline is important because these provisions were once all tied together and now, they are not.

Click here for the health care extender timeline.

*Note this post assumes the budget deal will pass tonight and is based on information as of 4:00pm on February 8, 2018.

**Emma Zimmerman of ML Strategies contributed to this post.

Late Monday night (February 5, 2018), the House of Representatives released a continuing resolution to keep the government funded and running until March 23, 2018. This CR includes many health care related provisions, specifically many of the health care “minibus” riders. In the chart below we summarize major health care provisions in this CR specific to the health care minibus. Note, the entire CHRONIC Care Act is included in this CR. Additionally, two key health care provisions are not included in this CR – the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) and the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. Please click here to see our chart summarizing key health care provisions of the February 5 CR.

 

This week, Congress needs to pass a government funding bill by Thursday. Will we get a final budget deal or another continuing resolution? There are still several important health care programs that need to be addressed as well as health care initiatives that have bipartisan support and could find their way into a deal. The challenge for Leadership this week is putting together a deal that can pass without upsetting the delicate balance in the House of Representatives. We cover this and more in this week’s preview, which can be found here.

This week, President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Following his speech, both parties will leave town for party retreats where they will discuss priorities for the year ahead. The immediate concern is the government funding deadline of February 8th, which will need to be addressed to avoid a government shutdown. Meanwhile, we are beginning to see responses to proposed Medicaid work requirements in states, which will have implications for state and federal policy making in the months ahead. We cover this and more in our preview, which can be found here.

Congress has four days to fund the government. The emerging spending deal could include any number of legislative priorities. We wait and see for signs that a spending deal is close before we start envisioning what a short-term continuing resolution might look like. Both sides will have to agree in order to avoid the shutdown. We also will be following the Senate Finance Committee as it votes to advance the nomination of Alex Azar to the full Senate for consideration. You can read about this and more in our health care preview.

On January 11, 2018, CMS released a Letter to Medicaid Directors outlining guidance that work requirements can be used as a basis for eligibility for certain adult Medicaid beneficiaries through 1115 waivers. Medicaid beneficiaries that can be subject to work requirements include non-elderly, non-pregnant adult Medicaid beneficiaries who are eligible for Medicaid on a basis other than disability. The guidance also outlines that exemptions/protections from work requirements must be made for individuals who are medically frail or have substance use disorders. It also details that states should outline how they would support beneficiaries with limited employment opportunities (economically depressed area, rural area, transportation limitations, etc.). The guidance suggests state could use good cause exemptions similar to those used in SNAP and TANF. Continue Reading CMS Guidance on Work Requirements for Medicaid Eligibility

This week, Congress returns to D.C. with 11 days to pass a government funding bill that may touch on issues such as CHIP, the minibus, DACA, and disaster relief. How this all comes together by January 19th will start to play out this week. Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee will consider the nomination of Alex Azar to be the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). We cover that and more in our preview, which can be found here.

2017 was an eventful year for health care, and now we can all sit back and relax with very little concern that major health policy will be on the table in 2018. Right?

Not so fast. Talks of entitlement reform, upcoming regulatory action in Medicare, Medicaid, FDA and the Marketplace, and let’s not forget the still lingering health care minibus. Lots to do in 2018 and we are just getting started.

Read the ML Strategies 2018 Health Care Preview to get our take on where things will go in 2018.