Photo of Katie Weider

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.

This week the Senate Finance Committee will mark up its opioid package. Additionally, the HELP Committee will hear from Secretary Azar on the Administration’s effort to lower prescription drug prices. For our complete review and what else to watch for this week, click here.

To date, 34 states (including D.C.) have adopted Medicaid expansion. Of the remaining 17 states, some are considering expanding Medicaid. States with recent activity relating to Medicaid expansion include Florida, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.  Last week, Virginia became the latest state to expand Medicaid and also tied a Medicaid work requirement to the expansion. California is also exploring expanding Medicaid to undocumented adults.

Below we have highlighted recent state grassroots, legislative, and executive action to expand Medicaid. Continue Reading A Rundown of Recent State Action Relating to Medicaid Expansion

In a previous blog, we reviewed pending and approved 1115 waivers in 11 states. These reviews provide an overview of 1115 waiver applications, including a focus on work requirements, lock-outs, changes in coverage structures, repealing the Medicaid IMD exclusion, and other behavioral health initiatives.  As we continue to monitor these applications, we’ve created a new site to track 115 waivers and will be continuing to update this site with additional state waiver requests and approvals.

On April 30, 2018, Ohio became the latest state to submit an 1115 waiver to include work requirements for certain Medicaid beneficiaries. The waiver application requires individuals in the Group VIII category – those with income level of 0-138% of the federal poverty level (FPL) – to meet the Work and Community Engagement requirement to maintain their Medicaid eligibility. These requirements will closely mirror existing SNAP and Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWD) requirements. There are at least fifteen exemptions to the work requirements outlined in the 1115 waiver request.

If the individual is not exempt, they will need to work or participate in a community engagement activity for a minimum of 20 hours per week, or 80 hours averaged monthly. These activities include education and training activities, job search or readiness programs, or the Work Experience Program, which supports beneficiaries in meeting work activity requirements through private or government entities.

Lastly, Ohio is requesting a federal match for supportive services such as transportation to help eligible beneficiaries in meeting the work and community engagement goals. If there is no federal match, the State would consider granting beneficiaries a good cause exemption. To date, Ohio is the only state with a submitted 1115 waiver including work requirements that is pursuing federal match for supportive services to help beneficiaries meet the work requirement.

A complete summary of the Ohio 1115 waiver application is found here.

You can view our complete waiver summary and links to state-by-state summaries by clicking here.

This week, the House is set to vote on Right to Try legislation which has gained the support of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. In the Senate, the HELP Committee will review the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act, or PAHPA, along with rural health care issues, which the Senate Finance Committee also happens to be looking at this week. On the Administration’s side, several agencies took steps forward consistent with the President’s agenda on drug pricing. How this plays out over the next several months will be relevant to all stakeholders in this space. We cover this and more in this week’s preview, which can be found here.

This week, the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold its second round markup of opioid-related legislation. While they remain on pace for passage by Memorial Day, the timing will be determined by how smooth the markup this week goes. Additionally, Ways & Means is also considering a markup of four large packages of opioid legislation. Anything the House passes will have to go to the Senate. In other words, the June work period seems more likely for significant action in this space.

Additionally, the Administration is moving ahead with its drug pricing initiative. While the initial reaction was skepticism, the Administration would not have put the initiative in writing if they didn’t mean it. As the key players continue discussing the various proposals, understanding where the Administration has the authority to act and how it could impact what you do is key to staying ahead of any proposals that gain traction. We cover this and more in this week’s health care preview, which you can find here.

On Friday, after weeks of delay, the President finally delivered his Drug Pricing Speech and released the HHS Blueprint detailing the Trump Administration’s plan to lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs.

The speech made pointed attacks on “the middlemen” and drug lobbyists. President Trump even called out Secretary Azar’s past role as a drug company executive when calling out drug companies’ role in high drug prices. Continue Reading President Trump Delivers Much Anticipated Drug Pricing Speech

On Tuesday, May 8th, the House held three hearings related to combating the opioid epidemic. The first hearing came out of the Energy and Commerce (E&C) Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which examined opioid distribution and diversion by the pharmaceutical industry. The second hearing came out of the E&C Subcommittee on Health, which examined the current statutory restrictiveness on the medical profession’s ability to coordinate substance use disorder (SUD) treatment due to prohibitions on certain patient information disclosure. The third hearing came out of the House Judiciary Committee and examined best practices in international and domestic enforcement on drug traffickers in curbing the supply of opioids across the U.S. Continue Reading Congress Holds Hearings and Proposes Legislation to Combat Vexing Opioid Crisis

This week, Congress is back in session with the House continuing its work on addressing the opioid crisis. There are three hearings and a markup on several pieces of legislation intended to address the ongoing epidemic. Once the House finishes its work, focus will move to the Senate side where the prospects of passage become more challenging as we head into summer. On the Affordable Care Act, insurers are beginning to submit rate increase proposals for 2019 which could lead to some jaw-dropping increases as we saw in Virginia last week. We cover this and more in this week’s preview, which can be found here.

This week, the focus shifts back to the Congressional push around addressing the opioid epidemic after the President’s speech on drug pricing was postponed. Both committees of jurisdiction in the House and Senate are moving on opioid legislation this week, so that has our immediate attention. The speech delay offers a momentary reprieve for stakeholders, but there’s still a Request for Information of some kind pending at the Office of Management and Budget, so it is likely that there will be action in this eventually.

Additionally, on our radar are new Democratic proposals around expansion of health coverage as well as the Administration’s potential action regarding ACA nondiscrimination protections. We cover this and more in this week’s health care preview, which you can find here.