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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

AHA to MedPAC: Eliminating, changing MIPS would confuse providers

The American Hospital Association (AHA) suggested the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) pump the brakes on advocating for major changes to Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), saying any major shifts wouldn’t have “the benefit of data or experience” considering this is the program’s first performance year.

Major insurers’ reliance on Medicaid, Medicare revenues could be used to boost ACA participation

The largest health insurers—UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Anthem, Cigna and Humana—are getting nearly 60 percent of their total combined revenue from Medicare and Medicaid plans, according to a Health Affairs study, with that money more than doubling since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed.

CMS finalizes cancellation of mandatory bundles

In a final rule issued on Nov. 30, CMS finalized changes to several mandatory bundled payment programs, canceling two surrounding hip fractures and cardiac care and reducing requirements in a joint replacement bundle.

CBO: Funding CSRs won’t mitigate impact from repealing individual mandate

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said passing an Affordable Care Act (ACA) stabilization measure after getting rid of the ACA’s individual mandate would still leave 13 million fewer people insured by 2027 and cause premiums increase by an average of 10 percent over the same time period.

5 things to know about Alex Azar’s first hearing as nominee for HHS Secretary

One Republican said he wouldn't support the nomination of Alex Azar, if the former pharmaceutical executive can't support importation of pharmaceuticals from other countries. 

Letting states pick essential health benefits may ‘undermine’ ACA

Insurers, hospitals and regulators had a largely negative reaction to a major provision of the proposed Affordable Care Act (ACA) benefit parameters for 2019 that would allow states to define their own “essential health benefits” which ACA-compliant insurance plans have to cover, saying it may return the nongroup market to its pre-ACA state.

States warn CHIP recipients benefits may end in January

Nearly two months after authorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired, two states are sending letters to families about the potential loss in insurance coverage for their children unless Congress approves funding—and another says it’s already out of money.

What healthcare groups want from ‘new direction’ on CMMI payment models

Fewer electronic health record requirements, smaller payment reforms and changing the definition of financial risk are some of the changes suggested by major healthcare groups in response to the CMS request for information on future models at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI).

Actuaries to Congress: Repealing individual mandate could threaten insurer solvency

If the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is repealed as part of a Republican tax cut plan, premiums will likely rise and insurers will exit the individual market, according to the American Academy of Actuaries.

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.