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Under a newly proposed rule from HHS, short-term health insurance coverage that doesn’t comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be more widely available, which the agency admitted may lead to insurer losses on the ACA exchanges if younger, healthier customers leave that market to buy short-term plans.

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).

 

Recent Headlines

More clinicians will be exempt from MIPS in 2018, won’t be able to opt in

CMS has finalized the rule for the second year of Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act’s (MACRA) Quality Payment Program (QPP), raising the low-volume threshold for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) but not allowing clinicians the option to participate if they don’t meet the minimum requirements.

5 things about the final OPPS rule and hospitals’ lawsuit over 340B change

CMS released its final hospital outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) rule for 2018, which included a significant cut to drug payments to hospitals which use the 340B drug discount program. The result was the quick threat of a lawsuit from three major medical groups.

10 things Democrats want from the next HHS Secretary

The top Democrats on the Senate’s finance and health committees have outlined 51 criteria for judging President Donald Trump’s next nominee to run HHS, with many of their priorities going against the policies touted by Trump and former HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD.

CMS proposes letting states change ACA’s essential health benefits, medical loss ratio

The definition of “essential health benefits” which Affordable Care Act-compliant health plans have to cover would be up for states to decide under a rule proposed by CMS, echoing similar provisions which had been included in Republican legislative efforts to repeal and replace the ACA.

6 states could be out of CHIP funds by January

Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired at the end of September, and with no quick renewal expected from Congress, states are on their own to keep the program afloat. According to a report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, six states won’t be able to do so past early January.

Trump declaration of public health emergency on opioids could impact physicians

President Donald Trump followed through on a months-old promise to declare a national public health emergency on the opioid addiction epidemic, which could increase access to addiction treatment and additional training for physicians prescribing opioids.

Judge denies request to block Trump from halting ACA insurer subsidies

A federal judge in California denied the request of 19 attorneys general to force the immediate reinstatement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies to insurers, which were cut off by President Donald Trump.

CBO: Funding ACA insurer subsidies would reduce federal deficit by $3.8B

Legislation to fund the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies for two years while expanding state waivers and availability of catastrophic insurance plans would preserve the current level of health insurance coverage while lowering federal spending, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Industry groups support ACA fix as Trump sends mixed signals

The deal to fund the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s halted cost-sharing reduction subsidies while expanding the state waiver process has the support of several major healthcare groups along with 10 governors and 24 senators. President Donald Trump, however, hasn’t been clear on whether he’ll support the bill as-is.

5 quotes from Alex Azar, frontrunner to be Trump’s next HHS secretary

President Donald Trump is considering nominating Alex Azar, a former executive for pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, as the next secretary of HHS, which could place the agency in the hands of man who has been skeptical of value-based care and opposed drug price controls.

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