Medicaid

Trump Administration Finalizes Rule on Health Plans
“You’re going to save massive amounts of money and have much better health care,” president says

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta suggested the new rule on associate health plans would help ease regulatory burdens on small businesses. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration on Tuesday finalized a rule expanding the availability of alternative insurance plans that do not meet the 2010 health care law’s requirements despite objections from consumer advocates and the industry.

The rule will extend so-called association health plans, which allow insurance companies to skirt benefit requirements and other parts of the 2010 law. President Donald Trump heralded the new rule in a speech Tuesday to the National Federation of Independent Business trade group, or NFIB.

House Budget Would Direct $302 Billion in 10-Year Spending Cuts
‘Three-step process to give to the rich and make everyone else pay for it,’ Democrats say

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., walks down the House steps after final votes of the week in the Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Budget Chairman Steve Womack’s fiscal 2019 budget resolution charts a path to balancing the budget in nine years through a combination of steep cuts in mandatory spending programs, freezing nondefense discretionary spending and banking on robust economic growth, according to a summary.

Under the draft fiscal blueprint, which will be marked up in committee Wednesday and Thursday, the deficit would be reduced by $8.1 trillion over 10 years compared to current law or policy. The budget would produce a surplus of $26 billion in 2027 if all of the assumed policies were enacted, growing to $142 billion in 2028.

Podcast: Some Red States Coming Around to Obamacare
CQ on Congress, Episode 107

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., speaks during the Senate Democrats' rally against Medicaid cuts in front of the U.S. Capitol on  June 6, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Voters in some GOP-leaning states will get a chance to adopt the 2010 health care law's Medicaid expansion by ballot initiative this November while others may elect governors who support it, says CQ health care reporter Misty Williams. It's an indication that even some conservative states are coming to accept the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land.

Show Notes:

House Prepares for Week of Action on Opioid Bills
‘Collectively these bills do not go far enough’

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., participates in the House Democrats’ news conference on health care reform in the Capitol on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will begin a voting marathon Tuesday on 34 bills designed to address the opioid epidemic. While most are not likely to be contentious, two have previously stirred controversy.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reserved about a week and a half of floor time to discuss opioid legislation. Additional bills are likely to be considered next week, such as four bill packages the House Ways and Means Committee approved with bipartisan support.

Fall Elections Key Moment in Medicaid Expansion Debate
Recent developments in Virginia are giving advocates hope

From left, former Reps. Adam H. Putnam and Gwen Graham and Rep. Ron DeSantis are running for Florida governor. Graham, a Democrat, supports expanding Medicaid in the state, while Punam and DeSantis, both Republicans, oppose broadening the program. (Ryan Kelly/Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

The midterm elections are poised to play a pivotal role in whether more states expand Medicaid eligibility, as the number of red-state holdouts dwindles.

Governors’ races in states such as Florida and Kansas, along with ballot initiatives in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah, are being watched closely by Medicaid experts this year.

For Some in Congress, the Opioid Crisis Is Personal
Lawmakers share the stories behind their efforts to combat the epidemic

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson lost his grandson to an opioid overdose. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As drug overdoses climb — rising 12 percent between October 2016 and October 2017 — Congress has floated dozens of proposals to combat opioid abuse.

Some lawmakers have deeply personal connections to the epidemic of addiction in America. These are their stories.

Medicare Finances Worsen but Social Security Projections Stable
Changes by Congress to tax law, entitlements affect projections

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was among the senior administration officials outlining the annual report on the health of the Medicare and Social Security systems. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Social Security system is in almost the same shape as last year for its retirement benefits and in a better position for its disability benefits, the program’s trustees reported Tuesday. But a separate report for Medicare paints a somewhat bleaker outlook for the giant health program for seniors and people with disabilities, estimating that its hospital trust fund will dry up in 2026 — three years earlier than last year’s projections.

Medicare’s board of trustees attributed the change, in part, to lower payroll taxes and higher-than-expected health care spending in 2017.

Dozens Arrested as Poor People’s Campaign Rallies at Capitol
Protesters hoisted a casket to represent poor Americans killed by ecological disasters and lack of health care

Protesters carry a coffin to the East Front of the Capitol as environmental activist groups joined forces Monday with the Poor People’’s Campaign to demand the right to health care and a healthy environment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BY MORGAN PHILLIPS AND JEFF CIRILLO

Capitol Police arrested 28 protesters in the Capitol Rotunda on Monday following a march and rally organized by the Poor People’s Campaign, a grass-roots group calling for a national “moral revival” to address social inequality.

CMS Launches New System to Measure State Medicaid Performance
Scorecards will initially focus heavily on metrics that states already voluntarily report

CMS Administrator Seema Verma, here at her February 2017 confirmation hearing, says existing data collection and reporting efforts for states “have been inconsistent at best.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Federal health officials on Monday unveiled a new system to measure how effectively states are running their Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid systems.

The scorecards will initially focus heavily on metrics that states already voluntarily report to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, such as well-child visits and chronic health conditions, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said during a press briefing. While many measures already existed, this marks the first time they are all being compiled together, Verma said.

VA Faces Scrutiny as It Gears Up for Health Overhaul
Bipartisan bill expected to be signed by president this week

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Robert Wilkie after nominating him to be the next Veterans Affairs secretary during an event at the White House on May 18. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

The Department of Veterans Affairs will face heavy scrutiny as it implements a major overhaul to its health care programs that President Donald Trump is expected to sign into law this week.

The bill, which moved through both chambers by wide bipartisan margins, would combine the VA’s seven programs for private medical care into one to streamline and simplify costs and access for veterans. The legislation would also extend the so-called Veterans Choice Program for one year, allowing veterans to seek care outside the VA under certain circumstances in the meantime.