It’s all about tax reform in Congress. This week, the House will look to pass its version of tax reform while the Senate begins marking up its package. Meanwhile, the end of the year is fast approaching and there are number of issues, including the health care minibus, that will need to be addressed. How Congress juggles the competing priorities and deadlines will be on display this week. You can read about this and more in the preview by clicking here.

The CHIP Reauthorization fight heads to the Senate where it faces an uncertain path forward as neither side can agree on payfors and the Senate Finance Committee focuses in on tax reform. While the Trump Administration is reportedly preparing an executive order that would eliminate the individual mandate, they are in a holding pattern to see if it gets included in the tax reform package. We cover that and more in our preview, which you can view here.

As the calendar turns to November, pressure continues to grow in Congress to pass a CHIP extension and address outstanding minibus extenders. Also on the radar is the first open enrollment period under the Trump Administration and the implications this could have for other policy issues. For the complete ML Strategies preview, please click here.

Our colleagues at ML Strategies have provided their Health Care Weekly Preview for the week of October 23, 2017. The preview discusses the Alexander-Murray stabilization package introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), and, in particular, where the stabilization package falls among Congress’ other priorities such as DACA and border security and what we are likely to see next.

Our colleagues at ML Strategies have provided their Health Care Weekly Preview for the week of October 16, 2017. The preview discusses the Administration’s decision to stop paying the cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) that plans have been receiving to cover lower-income individuals under the Affordable Care Act. It also discusses the suit that California and 18 other states and the District of Columbia have filed in response to the Administration’s decision on CSR payments.

Last week, ML Strategies released an Advisory providing a comprehensive review of the Republican’s efforts this past year to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.   The Advisory, published September 22, 2017, walks through the evolution of the Republican’s efforts beginning with the American Health Care Act and ending with an analysis of the Graham-Cassidy bill, which died in the Senate earlier this week.  With the Republican’s commitment to get something called “repeal and replace” passed, we expect these efforts will continue.  Understanding this evolution may provide insight on where we could be headed.

 

Our colleagues on the Employment Matters blog have been following Massachusetts’ efforts to make up a funding shortfall in the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program and its Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Back in May, they blogged on the two options introduced by the Senate to offset these rising costs: (1) a “play-or-pay” option that would impose a per employee assessment on companies that do not offer their workers’ health plans, or (2) an across the board increase in the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (or “EMAC”).

Last week, they provided an update on the Commonwealth’s effort. On August 1, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law H. 3822, “An Act Further Regulating Employer Contributions to Health Care” (the “Act”). This Act (i) increases the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (“EMAC”) from an annual maximum fee of $51 per employee to $77 per employee; and (ii) imposes a penalty on employers of up to $750 for each non-disabled worker who receives health insurance coverage through MassHealth or the Massachusetts Health Connector (i.e., the Commonwealth’s Affordable Care Act marketplace).

Read their full update here.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule last week regarding the cancellation of three bundled payment models and an incentive payment model while also reducing the scope of a third type of payment model. These models were mandatory for hospitals in certain geographic areas. The current administration had delayed the implementation of these models until January 1, 2018.   Continue Reading CMS Proposes to Cancel Bundled Payment and Incentive Models

Our colleagues at ML Strategies have provided a Health Care Weekly Preview.  This week’s preview describes the ongoing wrangling in the Senate over health care reform as well as highlighting the upcoming need to address FDA User Fees and the health care minibus

Stay tuned for additional updates and analysis from ML Strategies.

Children in United States receive their health insurance from multiple sources: the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, employer-sponsored insurance, or a qualified health plan on the Marketplace. This creates a fragmented system of coverage for children and families, particularly for low- and moderate-income families, who often have children and parents enrolled in across separate coverage sources.

With CHIP funding scheduled to expire on September 30, 2017, the future of children’s coverage will be up for debate again. Proposals have called for an extension of CHIP funding. However, as Katie Weider and Rodney Whitlock of ML Strategies discuss in their latest Health Affairs blog, it is time for us to stop talking about CHIP, and instead start talking about integrating the myriad of children’s coverage sources.  That blog is available here.