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In a significant shift for HHS’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), a new “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” is being created dedicated to complaints from healthcare professionals who feel they were discriminated against due to refusing to perform certain services based on religious or moral objections.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, led a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee where he explored whether Medicaid expansion is at least partially to blame for the rise in opioid addiction and overdose deaths. Federal data, however, shows those problem began more than a decade earlier.

Days after CMS first issued policy guidance on how states could require “able-bodied” Medicaid beneficiaries to work or face losing their coverage, Kentucky has become the first with an approved waiver to test out those requirements.

Major healthcare associations had a decidedly mixed reaction to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommending to Congress that the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) be eliminated, with some stakeholders saying such a major change would be premature less than three years after the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) was passed.

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).

 

Recent Headlines

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.

Senators say they’ve reached deal on ACA insurer subsidies

Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Patty Murray, D-Washington, have told reporters they’ve reached an agreement to fund the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies to insurers which had been halted by President Donald Trump.

Industry groups blast Trump’s executive order on insurance regulations

Groups representing physicians, hospitals and patients came out largely in opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order to encourage the use of insurance plans which don’t comply with Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations on benefits and covering people with pre-existing conditions.

Trump to cut off ACA insurer subsidies ‘immediately’

Cost-sharing reduction subsidies, or CSRs, paid to insurers in exchange for keeping out-of-pocket costs low for lower-income Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange enrollees will end, HHS announced Thursday night, with the agency saying it couldn’t legally continue making the payments.

Trump signs executive order removing ACA regulations on small businesses

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on the morning of Oct. 12 to ease rules on small businesses buying health insurance. With Congress failing to act on Republican promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Trump will make the unilateral move to reconfigure federal regulations.

Q&A with MGMA’s Anders Gilberg: Lasting healthcare reform ‘needs to start in the middle’

To call the last few months a busy time for healthcare lobbyists in Washington, D.C. would be quite an understatement. Rather than dwell on the failed attempts at repealing the Affordable Care Act, the Medical Group Management Association’s (MGMA) senior vice president of government affairs, Anders Gilberg, will look ahead to more immediate regulatory concerns and longer-term hopes for “lasting reform.”

AHIMA17: Former congressional leaders think ACA fixes, not repeal, now more likely

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, were brought to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) conference in Los Angeles to have a political-style debate on healthcare policy, but ended up agreeing on where short-term efforts may go now that repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) failed to pass.

FDA seeks speedier approval of generics

Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said the agency will tackle rising prescription drug costs by encouraging development of generic versions of complex drugs and drug-device combinations.

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