The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is urging House Republican and Democratic leaders to fully fund the ACA's cost-sharing reduction payments for fiscal 2017 in the upcoming continuing resolution, saying the "time to act is now" to prevent more insurers from exiting the exchanges or significantly raising rates. The commissioners also ask Congress to commit to funding the payments in 2018.
House Republicans, armed with new language floated by moderate New Jersey Republican Tom MacArthur and pressed by the White House to produce a legislative victory, are gearing up to revive their failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as early as next week. It is unclear how many Republicans will be picked up by the amendment -- which retains the ACA's preexisting conditions requirement but lets states opt out of other benefits -- but some sources predict the new language will pull at least a few moderates toward the yes column and could shore up the conservative wing.
President Trump on Friday (April 21) backed off a White House push to score a legislative victory on health reform next week ahead of his 100th day in office, telling reporters that "it doesn't matter" if the vote is next week, or any other week.
Congress' Medicaid commission recently spent nearly two-hours discussing the effects that the House GOP's stalled American Health Care Act would have on Medicaid, and said the bill as written raises a number of questions. Commission staff also separately laid out examples of how cutting back Medicaid financing potentially could affect other health and social programs, which commissioner Alan Weil said is "perfect material for a governor to go to Congress and say if you pull the stick out of this structure, things will fall."
President Donald Trump told conservative reporters he expects passage of the GOP health care bill could occur as soon as this week or could wait until September, the Washington Examiner reported. Trump stressed to the Associated Press in a separate interview that he has only been working on health care for about 60 days, while it took President Barack Obama 17 months to pass the Affordable Care Act, and keeping the government open will take precedence over health care for this week.
One-third fewer Americans paid the ACA's penalty for not maintaining minimal essential coverage compared to the same period last year, but IRS has collected 20 percent more from those penalties, according to a mid-season report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released last week. The report on tax filings through early March comes amid concerns that the Trump administration will not proactively enforce the ACA's individual mandate, which could further undermine the insurance markets.
Nevada's Silver State Health Insurance Exchange says the American Health Care Act's continuous coverage requirement, new tax credits and lack of clarity around cost-sharing reduction payments would lead to higher costs for consumers, insurer uncertainty and increased uncompensated care for hospitals. The exchange tells its board of director that continued funding of the ACA's cost-sharing payments and enforcement of the law's individual mandate penalty are needed to stabilize the individual market.
A broad coalition of industry organizations is urging Congress and President Donald Trump to continue the ACA's cost-sharing reduction payments, saying more than 70 percent of voters support help with consumers' out-of-pocket costs. Health policy analysts hope the issue will be resolved in the upcoming omnibus spending bill.
Oregon state Democrats' language in an April 18 discussion document on elimination of the state's Medicaid expansion among the potential cuts was not intended as a recommendation, state Rep. Nancy Nathanson (D) told Inside Health Policy. Nathanson is co-chair of the state legislature's Joint Committee on Ways & Means.
Following President Donald Trump's announcement that he would withhold the ACA's cost-sharing reduction payments in order to get Democrats to negotiate on health care, safety net hospitals are calling on Congress to fund the payments in order keep insurers in the market and prevent premiums from increasing by up to 30 percent.
The California drug lobby takes strong issue with drug pricing transparency legislation approved overwhelmingly by the state senate's health committee Wednesday, arguing the bill is counterproductive because it focuses on list prices and doesn't factor in the roles of pharmaceutical benefit mangers (PBMs) and insurer. State Sen. Ed Hernandez's (D) price transparency now heads to the California senate's appropriations committee.
The White House budget office met with federal agencies Friday (April 21) to prepare for a possible government shutdown should Congress not pass a new spending bill when the Continuing Resolution expires in a week. The Office of Management and Budget told agencies the contingency plans they updated last December when a similar shutdown loomed are likely sufficient and stressed it doesn't anticipate an actual shutdown.
The White House Office of Management and Budget met with federal agencies Friday to prepare for a possible government shutdown should Congress doesn't pass a new spending bill when the Continuing Resolution runs out April 28, but HHS' prior contingency plan shows that many of CMS' functions would continue using mandatory funding. CMS has the most mandatory funding of any HHS department, according an agency contingency plan, and those mandatory funds wouldn't be affected by a break in annual appropriations.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) has yet to sign on as an official co-sponsor to legislation that would allow states the option of essentially maintaining the Affordable Care Act or designing a new system either with or without federal assistance, but the Iowa Republican has repeatedly touted the bill as a good frame of reference. According to the Des Moines Register, Grassley at a town hall Tuesday (April 18) again cited the Patient Freedom Act (S 191) sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) as an example of legislation that includes health policy elements that he supports, including the ability to put high-cost individuals into a separate pool.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) signaled Tuesday (April 25) there could be clarifying language in the upcoming Continuing Resolution on the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reductions, coming as some moderate GOP senators said they support continuation of the payments. But when asked whether the president had taken his threat to withhold CSRs off the table, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's reply was non-committal.
The drumbeat towards another crack at a health care vote continued Wednesday (April 19) as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) told reporters in London that Congress is very close to a deal and the office of New Jersey GOP moderate Tom MacArthur confirmed reports that MacArthur is working on a amendment to the American Health Care Act that could come up for a vote as early as next week.