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Daily News

February 17, 2017

GOP senators aren’t coalescing around a repeal of Medicaid expansion despite the House GOP's release of a policy brief that would pull back the Affordable Care Act's expansion of the program.

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Employers who had braced for a cap on the unlimited tax exclusion as part of the GOP repeal and replace plan expressed no relief that the policy did not appear in the House leadership's policy paper presented at a closed-door congressional meeting Thursday (Feb. 16), especially as lawmakers told reporters the policy had been under discussion.

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Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) announced in a Feb. 16 floor speech that he will craft a legislative solution to price hikes associated with the orphan drug program, following news of an expected increase in the cost of a newly approved drug to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

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Eight states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act included statutory triggers to end their expansion programs should Congress reduce the enhanced federal match below levels guaranteed by the ACA, according to a paper by Manatt Health Solutions obtained by Inside Health Policy.

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CMS on Friday gave plans more time to submit applications for participation in the exchanges in 2018, pushing the deadline to June 21, or about six weeks longer than previously scheduled.

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The Healthcare Leaders for Accountable Innovation in Medicare is calling for HHS Secretary Tom Price to stop CMS’ innovation center from requiring providers to participate in demonstrations, and a spokesperson for the House Ways & Means Committee says Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) wants to work with Price on guardrails for demonstrations that test reforms.

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Physician groups recommend that CMS simplify Medicare's system for measuring doctor performance, lower the amount of risk doctors must meet to get a 5 percent bump in pay, seriously consider advice from the panel that advises CMS on alternative pay models and cut regulations on electronic health records.

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An industry attorney said there is continued uncertainty over how HHS and FDA will implement 21st Century Cures language that calls for harmonization of the two regulators' human research subject protection regulations even though HHS just issued a final rule revising its regulation of the so-called Common Rule.

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CMS Administrator-nominee Seema Verma said Thursday (Feb. 16) that she does not support giving vouchers for Medicare beneficiaries to buy insurance, she supports extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan for eight years, she’ll help Congress investigate EpiPen Medicaid rebates and she’ll make innovation center demonstrations voluntary.

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February 16, 2017

The health insurance lobby and congressional Republicans are both on board a policy proposal that would allow consumers to deposit any excess premium tax credits into a health savings account.

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House Energy & Commerce Chair Greg Walden (R-OR) introduced a bill that would prevent individuals from being denied insurance based on their health status when the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

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House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) says he does not support the GOP's newly unveiled plan to simultaneously repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act using a beefed-up version of the 2015 reconciliation bill.

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Key Senate Democrats are calling on President Donald Trump to explain why benefits of regulation are not being considered in his two-for-one executive order aimed at scaling back regulations.

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House Republican leaders are floating a paper that offers details on how they plan to go about repealing and replacing the ACA: The 2015 reconciliation bill will continue to be used as a foundation to repeal the ACA’s mandate penalties, taxes and subsidies, but will add in replacement features such as expanded health savings accounts, high-risk pools, refundable, advanceable tax credits, and a state option of moving to per-capita or block grants for Medicaid after a transition period.

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House Republicans outline a plan to pull back Medicaid expansion and convert Medicaid into a per-person pay system in a health care policy brief obtained by Inside Health Policy.

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February 15, 2017

Members of the House Freedom Caucus stood firm on their position that Congress needs to repeal Medicaid expansion at a Wednesday (Feb. 15) press conference where Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) announced his House companion bill to the Affordable Care Act replacement by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

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Molina Health Plan is calling on the administration to implement changes in the risk adjustment methodology this year, rather than in 2018, to help issuers stay afloat in the struggling exchanges, saying such a policy would have saved the company $70 million if it had been in place for 2016.

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Shortly after Senate Republicans met with HHS Secretary Tom Price, Rep. Mark Sanford (R-NC) unveiled his companion bill to Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) Obamacare Replacement Act that expands health savings accounts, offers a $5,000 per beneficiary tax credit for those paying into an HSA and eliminates the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits.

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After a meeting with newly tapped HHS Secretary Tom Price, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said stabilizing the individual insurance market is the first step in repealing and replacing the ACA.

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After meeting with Tom Price Wednesday, Republicans said the newly tapped HHS secretary will be a key player in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act but would not say whether the administration or Congress would take the lead on dealing with the health care law.

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