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The Voice of Olga Walther
There was quite a bit of activity in Medicaid expansion efforts this week, with remarkable strides made. In case you had trouble keeping up with all the news, here is a rundown of the biggest developments.
The House Ways & Means Committee held a hearing Tuesday on the Medicare Advantage (MA) program. Lawmakers eagerly pointed out the success and bipartisan support for the program and were generally very receptive of the feedback received from the panel of experts. The panel included two plans – Clover Health and Independence Blue Cross of Philadelphia – and two policy researchers.
Though Congress is on recess, health care policy was very embedded in conversation, with the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) officials making their rounds at speaking engagements. Through the speeches and chats with reporters, we have learned some insights into the agenda moving forward for the remainder of 2018. Some takeaways:
House Passes Spending Bill That Includes Many Medicare Advantage Policies; Senate Announces Two-Year Budget Deal
On Tuesday, the House passed a bill that would fund the government through March 23, 2018. Meanwhile, the Senate leaders announced Wednesday afternoon they have reached an agreement on a two-year spending deal. The Senate budget deal includes another four years of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding, added to the previously authorized six-year extension. The bill also contains two years of funding for community health centers, and adds $6 billion for the opioid epidemic. The deal will also terminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Though it is still uncertain whether the Senate deal has enough support to make it through the House, with both Democrats and budget hawks on the fence, it is reported that the Senate is planning to attach this budget deal to the previously passed House spending bill, and send it back to the House for a vote.
On February 1, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its 2019 Advance Rate Notice (Part II) and Draft Call Letter. CMS estimates an expected increase of 1.84% to payments in 2019. CMS says its estimates do not reflect underlying coding trend, which it expects to increase risk scores by 3.1% in 2019.
Though he was largely expected to step away from remarks on healthcare in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Trump made several remarks regarding his administration’s plans in 2018, which give us some insight into potential actions the administration may take this year.
As expected, on January 11, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its guidance around implementing work requirements through 1115 waivers. Ten states have applied for such a waiver and have pending proposals at CMS.