Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


McConnell Comments on 2018 Agenda

During the holiday recess, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made comments indicating that the Senate would be moving on from attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while also leaving room for Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) to continue work on their repeal legislation. When Sen. Graham countered that he will continue to push the Graham-Cassidy plan in the coming year, McConnell stated his support for a vote on the bill if it has enough support to pass. McConnell stated that the Senate would be turning its focus to issues on the GOP agenda with a greater possibility of success in a 51-49 Senate following Doug Jones (D-Ala.) swearing in on January 3. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) does not believe that Obamacare repeal is done with, and has also expressed support for tackling entitlement spending and welfare reform in the coming year. Sen. McConnell, however, attempted to lower expectations for entitlement reform, noting that it has been historically impossible without bipartisan agreement.

IL Lawmakers Urge Medicaid Waiver Decision

The Illinois congressional delegation has written to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) demanding action on the Medicaid waiver application submitted by the state in 2016. Section 1115 waivers allow states to customize their programs according to their specific Medicaid population, as long as the changes promote overarching program objectives. The bipartisan group of Illinois’ lawmakers argue that their state’s proposal would improve behavioral health care and the opioid epidemic across the state. Thirty-six applications currently await action by the Administration, despite encouragement from CMS Administrator Seema Verma for states to use waivers to modernize the Medicaid program.

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