Congress takes steps to reauthorize CHIP

On October 4, 2017, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee approved a bill that would reauthorize federal funding through FFY 2022 for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a program that currently serves over nine million low-income children. New funding authorization for CHIP expired on September 30, 2017. For now, states are operating CHIP on federal allotments left over from prior years. Those reserves vary widely from state to state. [More]

Senators introduce ACA repeal legislation

On September 13, 2017, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy, Dean Heller, and Ron Johnson introduced legislation to scrap many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while imposing funding caps on the traditional Medicaid program. The bill could become law under budget reconciliation rules that block a Senate filibuster. The bill could pass the Senate and House on a majority vote before September 30, 2017.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that it can’t comprehensively analyze the bill’s potentially adverse impact on health insurance premiums and coverage until next month. Congress will be acting this month based on a preliminary CBO analysis expected to show long-term federal budget savings. [More]

Governors outline market stabilization strategy

On August 30, 2017, a bipartisan coalition of Governors issued a letter to Congress on steps needed to restore stability and affordability in coverage to 22 million Americans served through individual health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Governors’ letter sets the stage for testimony before a US Senate committee on September 7, 2017, by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. [More]

CMS proposes reductions in Medicaid allotments to states for hospitals’ uncompensated care

On July 28, 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule to implement $43 billion in reductions in federal Medicaid allotments to state Medicaid agencies for payment adjustments to hospitals serving a disproportionate share of low-income persons. The reductions in such allotments under the proposed rule will apply to federal fiscal years 2018-2025. Reductions nationwide will start at $2 billion in FY 2018 and will reach $8 billion per year in FY 2024 and FY 2025. [More]

White House issues report on the opioid epidemic

On July 31, 2017, the White House posted the initial findings and recommendations of its Commission on Combatting Drug Abuse and the Opioid Crisis.
The Commission cites evidence that:
• 142 Americans die from drug overdoses per day.
• Only 10 percent of the 21 million persons with a substance use disorder (SUD) are receiving appropriate treatment for it.
• Over 40 percent of persons with an SUD also have a mental health disorder but less than half of them are receiving appropriate treatment for either disorder.
• About 80 percent of new heroin users begin with prescription opioids. [More]

National Academy of Medicine outlines strategies for high-need patients

On July 6, 2017, the National Academy of Medicine released a valuable report entitled, “Effective Care for High-Need Patients: Opportunities for Improving Outcomes, Value, and Health.” The report describes key characteristics of high-need patient populations, tools that can be adopted to identify evidence-based models of care for them, and strategies to promote successful implementation of such models in collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders at the federal, state, and community level. It stresses the importance of behavioral health issues, social determinants of health, and community-based supports for high-need patients who often struggle at home with functional limitations associated with aging, disabilities, and a wide range of long-term diseases examined in the report. [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]

NGA calls for Congressional action on CHIP renewal

On May 11, 2017, the National Governors Association (NGA) released a letter to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce calling for Congressional action to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five more years. The letter is signed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, NGA Chair, and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, NGA Vice-Chair for Health and Human Services. [More]