Congress is in session this week with six important health care hearings, including hearings on Medicare fraud, mental health, and Stark reform. Meanwhile, the Administration continues to put forth new proposed rules and guidance that will impact many stakeholders between now and the end of the year. We cover this and more in this week’s health care preview, which you can find by clicking here.

The government is focusing on opioids.  Whether it be program policies, enforcement, or legislation, combating the opioid epidemic continues to be a major focus for government officials.  It is also a major piece of the health care legislation moving in both the House and the Senate.

In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee advanced five bills relating to the opioid crisis, and the HELP Committee advanced the “Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018,” which has over 40 measures relating to opioids. Most recently (6/12), the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved the Helping To End Addiction And Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act Of 2018.  That Act includes the expansion of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act to include payments to mid-level providers, as we previously blogged about here.  Click here for a summary of all Senate bills.

On the House side, over the last two weeks, the House passed over 50 bills to combat the opioid crisis and have received bipartisan support. Additional opioid related bills have been introduced and passed out of committee. On June 20, the House voted and passed three additional opioid bills (HR 5925, HR 9797, and HR 6082). Two of these bills were considered controversial. H.R. 5797, The IMD CARE Act, repeals the Medicaid IMD exclusion for individuals with opioid use disorders. H.R. 6082, The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, amends 42 CFR Part 2 confidentiality protections pertaining to substance use disorder patient records.  Continue Reading Opioids Have Our Attention

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 at ML Strategies have provided their Health Care Weekly Preview for the week of September 11, 2017.  This week’s preview focuses on Congress’ efforts to stabilize the ACA marketplaces, as well as the proposal from Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Bill Cassidy (LA) to use block grants to fund Medicaid expansion and private insurance subsidies.

Our colleagues at ML Strategies have provided their Fall Health Care Preview for Fall 2017.  This preview focuses on what to expect for the rest of 2017 by examining the following questions:

  1. How will the health care minibus provisions move?
  2. Will a market stabilization package come together?
  3. Will cost-sharing reductions (CSR) payments continue to be made or formally authorized?
  4. Will ACA “repeal and replace” be resurrected yet again?

This preview is a must read for those seeking to navigate the health care policy landscape in the remaining months of 2017.

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.