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The Voice of Olga Walther
With the failed Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal effort, senators packed their bags and headed off for August recess. Their return will be met with a significantly packed healthcare agenda: Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization, ACA Stabilization Bill, Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act, as well as last ditch efforts to repeal the ACA through bills that have yet to be voted on such as Graham-Cassidy.
Congress is in recess, and, for now, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fight is on hold, at least legislatively. This is not so, however, for states and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). While the rejection of ACA repeal proposals under which Medicaid would face significant cuts was seen as a major win for the program and the underserved communities, the fight goes on as states look to make changes through 1115 waivers and wait for the outcome of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding reauthorization. Discussed below is some of the recent impactful waiver activity.
Forty-nine Democrats and three Republicans delivered a blow to Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal efforts last week by voting against what was then seen as the final effort to pass a bill through the Senate. Already this week, talks have ramped up of both a new repeal effort as well as bipartisan efforts to force through a “market stabilization bill.” Despite the focus on possible repeal legislation, the administration already holds one powerful card in their hand – the use of 1332 waivers – that could provide an avenue for healthcare reform through state action.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule making changes to the second year of the Quality Payment Program (QPP) under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). In the proposed rule, CMS continues to use a flexible approach to the implementation of the legislation, marking the second year of the program another transition year. Comments on the proposed rule are due by August 21st, 2017.
For the first time, one in three people in Medicare are now enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA), according to a new analysis from Kaiser Family Foundation. The new analysis, “Medicare Advantage 2017 Spotlight: Enrollment Market Update,” examines trends in the MA market, including cost sharing and premiums, market penetration, and market share of the top three MA firms by state.
In a newly released report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) examine data on disenrollment by health status and the reasons beneficiaries disenroll to strengthen oversight of the Medicare Advantage program. The Department of Health & Human Services concurred with GAO’s recommendation.
On May 23, 2017, the White House released President Trump’s budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. Simultaneously, the Department of Health & Human Services released their budget in brief, explaining the agency’s budget proposals.