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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).

The second federal government shutdown of 2018 lasted only six hours, but the budget deal that ended it will have an impact on the healthcare industry for years to come through changes to Medicare payments, the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and repealing one of the most controversial parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

 

Recent Headlines

MGMA: CMS late again on notifying clinicians of MIPS eligibility

Full-year quality reporting will be required in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) for the first time in 2018, but clinicians haven’t received word from CMS on whether they’re eligible to participate, according to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

MedPAC votes to recommend repealing MIPS

Following up on criticisms of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) at recent meetings, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) formally voted to recommend scrapping the payment system, arguing the program replicates flaws from those it was meant to replace.

CMS push for Medicaid work requirements likely to be challenged in court

CMS has released guidance for how states can seek Medicaid waivers imposing requirements for beneficiaries to work in order to receive coverage, a move which some healthcare groups quickly condemned and threatened to sue in order to stop.

Humana leaves AHIP

Humana has terminated its membership in America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the largest lobbying group for the health insurance industry, following the departures of other major insurers in recent years. 

CDC recommends using ‘Obamacare’ over ‘ACA’

Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), again denied the agency has banned words such as “fetus,” “science-based” and “transgender” from official documents in a letter to Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, but did reveal the style guide used by HHS recommends avoiding certain words and substituting others.

Maryland considers individual mandate replacement

State lawmakers in Maryland have proposed an alternative means to encourage people to maintain health insurance following the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate through the Republican-supported tax cut legislation.

HHS nominee Alex Azar supports mandatory CMMI models

Former Eli Lilly executive Alex Azar faced another grilling before members of Congress, being questioned by the Senate Finance Committee, which will decide whether to advance his nomination to the full Senate. The hearing highlighted one major difference between Azar and former HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD, when it came to mandatory payment models.

CBO: Repeal of individual mandate lowers cost for CHIP renewal 

Extending the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will cost the federal government $7.5 billion less than previously estimated because other options have become more expensive after the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. 

5 things to know about proposed rule on association health plans

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released a proposed rule to expand the use of association health plans (AHPs), allowing more small businesses, trade organizations and individuals to buy health coverage as a group.

HHS posts thousands of comments critical of expanding religious exemptions

HHS has now posted more than 12,000 public comments on its request for information (RFI) to loosen the standards for exemptions to regulations for religious and faith-based groups after initially only posting 80 which most back the administration’s efforts.

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