Photo of Rodney Whitlock

Rodney Whitlock is a veteran health care policy professional with more than 20 years of experience working with the US Congress, where he served as health policy advisor and as Acting Health Policy Director for Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and, earlier, on the staff of former US Representative Charlie Norwood of Georgia. Rodney has been deeply engaged in health care reform legislation. In 2010, he became the Acting Health Policy Director for Senator Grassley, and shepherded the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 into law.

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.

Today (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.

 

Happy New Year and welcome to 2018! Our first weekly preview of the year dives into the issues left unresolved in 2017. Where does CHIP and the minibus fit into the developing government funding bill, which Congress will have to finalize or pass another continuing resolution by January 19th. Also, the repeal of the individual mandate will have implications in the short- and long-term on health policy discussions. For our complete preview, please click here.

Republicans enter this week on target to pass a sweeping tax reform package after securing support from Senators Corker (TN) and Rubio (FL). Additionally Susan Collins (ME) applauded the “inclusion of multiple amendments,” but stopped short of publicly supporting the measure. Senator Collins’ vote and the commitments she receives in exchange for her vote remains a pivotal piece to forecasting the week and months ahead, particularly for health care matters. For the complete preview, please click here.

This week, Republicans will ramp up efforts to pass a tax reform package. We should also get signs that a year-end spending deal is coming together. How things play out this week — both inside and outside the Beltway — will have implications for taxes, health care, and funding the government. For the complete preview, please click here.

Following weekend passage of the Senate tax bill, we return this week with Congress needing to pass a government-spending bill. While it’s widely expected that this will be a two-week continuing resolution (CR), giving lawmakers time to hash out a long-term deal, a short-term extension still requires Democratic votes since spending measures can be filibustered (e.g., October 2013). So, after the acrimonious tax debate, the pressure is on Republicans to construct a two-week spending measure that does not provoke Democratic opposition. You can read about this, as well as the interplay between the tax bill and year-end health policy negotiations, by clicking here.

Congress has its work cut out for itself between now and the end of the year. Between addressing the programs that constitute the Health Care Minibus, funding the government, and tax reform, there are also questions related to a market stabilization package (Alexander-Murray), the 340B program, the opioid epidemic, and another hurricane relief package. For the complete December preview, please click here.

The release of the House and Senate GOP tax plan this month has left Washington on edge as it comes to grips with the realities of tax reform. However, the elimination of the medical expense tax deduction in the House Republicans’ tax reform package stands out above the rest as misguided. This elimination would not only affect filers using the deduction, but it also stands to have broader implications for our health care system.

ML Strategies has published a new blog post in Health Affairs on the consequences of the deduction’s removal to the Medicaid program. It can be found here.