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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

Only 1 rural county still at risk of having no ACA insurer

Less than a month ago, CMS reported 40 counties were in danger of having no insurer offering coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange. As of Aug. 21, that number was shrunk to just one: Paulding County, Ohio.

Trump quietly signs FDA user fee reauthorization

With almost zero fanfare, President Donald Trump signed the FDA Reauthorization Act (FDARA) of 2017 into law on Aug. 18, approving the user fee agreements paid by pharmaceutical and medical device companies to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Majority of Americans now support universal health coverage

60 percent of Americans believe it’s the government’s responsibility to provide universal health coverage, representing a major shift in opinion since 2013, according to an analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Hospital groups split on CMS canceling mandatory bundles

CMS confirmed Tuesday it will cancel two mandatory bundled payment programs and scale back another—and not all hospitals are happy about it.

CMS to cancel mandatory bundles

A rule title posted to the Federal Register on Aug. 10 indicates CMS will cancel two mandatory bundled payment programs, the Advancing Care Coordination through Episode Payment Models (EPMs) and Cardiac Rehabilitation Incentive (CRI) Payment Models, while changing a separate payment program on joint replacements.

Trump to declare ‘national emergency’ on opioid crisis

Following up on recommendations by his own White House commission, President Donald Trump said he will declare a national public health emergency on the opioid addiction epidemic, which would have an impact on healthcare providers.

ACA insurers seeking premium hikes as high as 49% due to policy uncertainty

In an analysis of what Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange insurers are requesting to charge customers in 21 major cities in 2018, the Kaiser Family Foundation found the cost for the second-lowest silver-level plan will range from $244 to $631 per month, with most enrollees cushioned from the price hikes by federal subsidies.

Senate passes ‘right-to-try’ bill which critics call ‘deceptive’ to terminal patients

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill on Aug. 3 which would allow terminally ill patients the “right to try” experimental treatments that haven’t yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but critics say it gives patients false hope without allowing for federal oversight.

Senate passes FDA user fee reauthorization

By an easy vote of 94-1, the Senate passed the FDA Reauthorization Act (FDARA) of 2017, approving the user fee agreements paid by pharmaceutical and medical device companies to the Food and Drug Administration.

Hospitals win on $2.4B raise, AO reports, 90-day meaningful use in final IPPS rule

CMS has finalized the Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTCH) payment rules, lowering the total increase to $2.4 billion while removing a controversial proposal to require public release of previously confidential hospital inspections by accrediting organizations (AOs).

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