Update on the Senate’s efforts to Repeal parts of the ACA

After releasing the Better Care Reconciliation Act at the end of last week, leadership in the U.S. Senate announced this week that it will not be voting on the bill before the July 4th Congressional recess as planned. Instead efforts are underway to overhaul the bill, with a vote is expected sometime after the recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he intends to submit a new version of the bill to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office today. [More]

Section 1332 State Innovation Waiver – Recent developments and the newly-released checklist

In follow-up to its letter to Governors regarding the Section 1332 Waiver opportunity, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Treasury released a Section 1332 checklist on May 16 designed to help states pursue ACA State Innovation Waivers. Section 1332 of the ACA allows states to waive specific ACA provisions as long as they apply according to the process set out in regulations and meet the following comparability requirements:

• The waiver will provide coverage to at least a comparable number of the state’s residents as would be provided without the waiver;
• The waiver will provide coverage and cost-sharing protections that are at least as affordable as would be provided without the waiver;
• The waiver will provide for coverage that is at least as comprehensive as would be provided without the waiver; and
• The waiver will not increase the federal deficit. [More]

21st Century Cures Act

On December 7, 2016 Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act (the “Act”), which was signed into law on December 14, 2016. The Act is aimed at modernizing health care delivery, improving quality and targeted improvements in the area of cancer treatment, mental health care, opioid addiction, and other focused areas. One such modernization effort requires states to implement Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) systems for personal care services and home health care services providers by 2019 and 2023, respectively. These EVV systems will help ensure that beneficiaries receive the care that is being billed to Medicaid. Additionally, the Act allocates over $1 billion in grant funding over the next two years for states to combat the opioid epidemic. States began the application process for grant funds in early 2017, and efforts are now underway in a number of states to implement new programs and services focused on treatment and prevention. Below we highlight one way PCG has identified to leverage existing claims data to implement reforms. This Act is largely funded through the Prevention and Public Health fund established in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For more information on additional modernization and reform elements of the Act, please click here. [More]

CBO estimates that AHCA would severely increase the number of uninsured persons

On May 24, 2017, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released estimates on the impact of the proposed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA), as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 4, 2017. AHCA would partly repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The CBO estimates that AHCA would severely increase the number of persons without health coverage, as compared to the ACA... [More]

States seek to intervene in House v. Price lawsuit

On May 18, 2017, 15 states and the District of Columbia filed a motion to intervene in House v. Price, a lawsuit threatening the availability of federal funds (about $9 billion in 2017) for cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to health insurers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The lawsuit pertains to whether or not CSR payments are subject to annual Congressional appropriations. It was initially filed in November 2014 in U.S. District Court, which ruled in favor of the U.S. House of Representatives in May 2016, but held its decision in abeyance pending appeal. It is now before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. [More]

New ACA-Related announcements from the Federal Administration

The administration is taking more limited steps to influence implementation of the law, including two upcoming changes to enrollment through Marketplaces announcements last month. On May 15, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will be proposing a rule to have enrollment into Federally-facilitated Small Business Marketplace (known as Small Business Health Options Program or “SHOP”) health insurance plans go directly through insurers as of 2018. Two days later, on May 17, CMS released guidance enabling (but not requiring) full direct enrollment in individual market Federally-facilitated Marketplace (FFM) plans starting for open enrollment for plan year 2018. [More]

PCG creates summary of the House-passed health care bill

The American Health Care Act (“the bill”) passed the House of Representatives on May 4, 2017. As outlined in greater detail in the PCG summary, the bill does not repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in full, but rather proposes changes primarily focused on the ACA’s insurance affordability, Medicaid expansion, coverage requirements and revenue provisions. It also proposes changes to Medicaid funding more generally and allows states to waive medical underwriting prohibitions. [More]

States continue to pursue Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers

With repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) stalled, states are increasingly considering Section 1332 Waivers as a way to expand upon or customize the ACA to best address the unique circumstances within the state. Alaska and Oklahoma are the two most recent states to take formal steps toward State Innovation Waivers, both states following on the heels of the recent Section 1332 Waiver approval granted to Hawaii, which we summarized in the February edition of Health Policy News. [More]

HHS encourages Governors to consider state innovation waivers

On March 13, 2017, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a letter to all governors outlining the parameters under which states can obtain waivers under section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). HHS notes that state innovation waivers to implement high-risk pools and state-operated reinsurance programs may be an important opportunity to lower health insurance premiums for consumers, to improve health insurance market stability in the state, and to increase consumer choice. [More]

Amended ACA repeal legislation headed for critical vote in the U.S. House of Representatives

On March 20, 2017, the leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives released amendments to the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would repeal many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The new amendments to AHCA would allow states to impose work-related activity requirements on specified categories of adult Medicaid recipients as a condition of eligibility. The work-related activity requirements would not apply to the aged, disabled, pregnant women, and certain other Medicaid eligibility groups; and would incorporate broad definitions of work-related activities and exemptions aligned with longstanding TANF requirements. An enhanced Medicaid administrative matching rate (a five percentage point increase on top of the usual 50 percent rate) would be available for Medicaid administrative expenditures necessary to implement the work-related activity requirements. [More]