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Policy

 

Under a newly proposed rule from HHS, short-term health insurance coverage that doesn’t comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be more widely available, which the agency admitted may lead to insurer losses on the ACA exchanges if younger, healthier customers leave that market to buy short-term plans.

For two decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has supposedly been blocked from conducting research into the health effects of gun violence by a budget amendment. HHS Secretary Alex Azar has a different opinion, telling members of Congress Thursday he would allow the CDC to conduct research which doesn’t veer into advocacy.

Providers have until March 12 to apply for CMS’s new Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) Advanced model, though the program was only unveiled on Jan. 9. Considering the details CMS has given about the model, that’s not enough time for hospitals to decide whether to participate, according to the American Hospital Association (AHA).

In his first congressional testimony since being confirmed as HHS Secretary, Alex Azar argued the department’s proposed budget would extend the life of Medicare while making HHS more efficient by cutting nearly $18 billion in funding.

The budget proposed by President Donald Trump involves several major cuts to Medicare payments for hospitals, reductions that are “unsustainable” and “staggering,” according to the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) and the American Hospital Association (AHA).

 

Recent Headlines

Insurers in Massachusetts have to cover birth control without copay under new law

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a law on Nov. 21 to require insurers cover birth control products without copays, allow women to obtain a year’s supply at once and prevent most employers from opting out of contraceptive coverage on moral or religious grounds.

HHS nominee made millions in pharma

Alex Azar, President Donald Trump’s nominee for HHS Secretary, was paid nearly $2 million in his final year as an executive at pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and built a portfolio worth as much as $20.6 million in his nearly 10-year tenure at the company.

Fighting opioid abuse, lowering drug prices, deregulation are goals of Medicare Part D rule

Several changes to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans have been included in a proposed rule by CMS in an effort to fight opioid abuse among seniors while taking another step towards reducing regulations.

ACA enrollment up in first weeks—and if it falls, poll says Trump will be blamed

Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 11, nearly 1.5 million people signed up for health insurance coverage on the Healthcare.gov exchange, an increase of almost 500,000 from the same period last year.

Senate GOP includes repeal of ACA individual mandate in tax reform

Republican leaders in the Senate announced Nov. 14 they will include a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in their tax reform proposal. After failing numerous times to repeal and replace the ACA, GOP leaders are hoping to include the healthcare reform in the tax bill.

FDA issues strong warning about kratom to treat pain, opioid addiction

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a public health advisory about risks associated with kratom, an herbal supplement used to treat pain and reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.

AHA, ACC lower bar for high blood pressure to 130/80

In the first update to U.S. guidelines on blood pressure in 14 years, a writing committee changed the definition of high blood pressure from 140/90 millimeters of mercury or higher to 130/80 or higher.

Final MACRA rule too strict for some, too loose for others: ‘Do we need MIPS at all?’

While the proposed rule for the second year of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA)’s Quality Payment Program (QPP) earned mostly praise from the healthcare industry, the finalized rule earned a mixed reaction from groups alternating saying it’ll burden providers and it’s allowing too many physicians to avoid the program altogether.

Healthcare policy put to voters in Maine, Ohio on Election Day 2017

Two state ballot referendums on Nov. 7 dealt with healthcare issues, with voters in Maine approving an expansion of Medicaid eligibility while Ohio voters soundly rejected a measure to tie pharmaceutical prices paid by the state to rates paid by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).

CMS administrator signals big changes to Medicaid

States will have more flexibility to change their Medicaid programs, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a speech that criticized the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s expansion of eligibility and called opposition to work requirements for able-bodied beneficiaries “soft bigotry” from the last administration.

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