Week in Washington


Week in Washington is brought to you by Michael Cohen, PhD. Tune in each week to read the latest on healthcare policy and get a glimpse of what’s on the horizon.


June 6, 2018:  Medicare Trustees Report


The annual Medicare Trustees report was released this week.  The report projected that the Medicare trust fund would run out of money in 2026 or three years earlier than previously projected.  There were a number of factors associated with that shift including less tax revenue due to the recent tax bill, lower wage growth than previously projected, and a greater number of uninsured due to repeal of the mandate.

OIG Findings on Medicare Drug Prices- another Medicare report was released this week. HHS’ Inspector General (OIG) released a report finding that reimbursement on Medicare drugs increased 62% between 2011 and 2015. Brand-name drugs increased 6 times the rate of inflation during this time frame which resulted in the percent of seniors spending more than $2,000 on out of pocket costs doubling.

2019 Individual Market Rates- There are now about 9 states that have released some public information on preliminary 2019 individual markets. Kaiser Family Foundation is tracking them here. High variation between states seems to be the norm this year. For example, New York had approximately a 24% increase while nearby Pennsylvania had a 4.9% proposed increase.  

CSR loading- Alex Azar testified this week before a Congressional panel. During his testimony he announced CMS would not be making any changes to state’s current flexibility around allowing plans to load only Silver premiums with CSRs.

Wisconsin drug testing – One of the next big policy questions on Medicaid eligibility could soon be answered. Wisconsin is seeking to become the first state to require drug tests for most of its Medicaid enrollees. Enrollees that fail the drug tests could be at risk for losing their benefits. A decision on the subject is expected in the near future, although if the proposal is given the green light, litigation is likely.

Suicide in the US- CDC released a new report on changes in suicide rates in the US. Over approximately the last 15 years, suicide rates increased in all but one state, with more than half of all states experiencing at least 30% increases.


Previous editions:

06/06/2018:  Medicare Trustees Report

05/31/2018:  Mandates and Medical Expansion

05/24/2018:  CBO Releases New Scores

05/17/2018:  More Prescription Drug News

05/10/2018:  Prescription Drug News

05/03/2018:  News & Notes






04/26/2018:  Encounter Data is Coming!

04/19/2018:   Medicaid Expansion and Lawsuits

04/13/2018:   Regulations! Get your Regulations!

04/06/2018:   A Few Numbers

03/22/2018:   No ACA Stabilization

03/15/2018:   Research Here, Get Your Research!






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