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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

Healthcare industry taking Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal bill more seriously

Once thought to be the policy equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) known as the Graham-Cassidy bill appears to have gained momentum—and with it, extra attention from healthcare industry groups like the American Medical Association (AMA) that have opposed Republicans’ so-far unsuccessful efforts to repeal the law.

5 things to know about the Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal bill

Amid attempts to agree on short-term stabilization of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Democrats coming out in support for a “Medicare-for-all” bill, a group of Republican senators unveiled what could be their last chance to repeal and replace the ACA.

‘Difficult needle to thread’ on ACA fix with easier state waivers

Members of the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions (HELP) Committee were encouraged to offer greater flexibility under the Affordable Care Act’s “state innovation waivers,” the details of which could spell trouble for the fledging compromise between Democrats and Republicans on a quick fix for the law.

Medicare-for-all bill to be introduced in Senate

Legislation to move the U.S. to a single-payer, “Medicare-for-all” healthcare system will be introduced Wednesday, Sept. 13, by former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, with several potential presidential contenders in 2020 already lining up behind the bill. 

Senators hope to reach agreement on ACA fix next week

In the first of series of hearings aimed at building consensus on a plan to stabilize the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, state insurance commissioners asked for lawmakers to pass a multi-year extension of the ACA’s payments to insurers.

Ending DACA may worsen doctor shortage

The move by the administration of President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy in six months without congressional action was harshly criticized by major medical associations, which warned removing DACA protections could affect access to care in rural and underserved areas.

Governors to Congress: ‘Make a clear commitment’ to value-based care

A group of eight governors—five Democrats, two Republicans and one independent—have proposed a series of reforms they hope congressional leaders use in crafting legislation to stabilize the Affordable Care Act (ACA) markets.

Trump cuts ACA advertising budget by 90%

Last year, CMS spent more than $100 million on advertising the Affordable Care Act exchanges (ACA). Under President Donald Trump, it will only spend $10 million, while also cutting 41 percent from outreach activities meant to boost enrollment on the exchanges.

What major medical groups want in regulatory relief

The American College of Physicians (ACP), the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) submitted comments to the House’s health subcommittee suggesting options for rolling back healthcare regulations on quality measures, hospital ratings and physician self-referral laws.

More MIPS exemptions ‘relief’ to some, counterproductive to others

More than 1,100 organizations and individuals offered comments on proposed changes for the second year of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act’s (MACRA) Quality Payment Program (QPP), and some questioned the reasoning behind exempting more clinicians from the new payment tracks.

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