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.
Week in Washington
- Uninsured -The CDC released preliminary survey data on the uninsured levels as of the third quarter of 2021. Overall, they found a significant decrease in the number of uninsured, specifically for those under 200% of the poverty level. This would imply that the large increases in Medicaid and ACA Exchanges not only captured enrollees from group insurance losses, but also from the uninsured ranks.
- ACA – HHS announced that Exchange enrollment reached record number of plan selections. While HHS has not yet released the final Open Enrollment number, it did announce that 14.2 million Americans have already signed up for coverage.
- MA – Analysis of Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollment as of January 1 showed an approximately 8.8% increase compared to the same time last year. Axios also provided a breakdown of enrollment by a major insurer.
- President Biden announced that efforts to revive Build Back Better may result in the bill being broken into parts. Biden specifically mentioned climate policy and early childhood education as part that could win support, but did not mention what would happen to the health care provisions of BBB.
- The Public Health Emergency for COVID was renewed on January 16 for 90 days (the maximum amount allowed). The Biden Administration has not released any information on when the PHE is expected to end
- CMMI Director Liz Fowler announced that CMMI will look to address Medicare Advantage risk adjustment upcoding related issues in its models.
- The national number of COVID cases have potentially peaked this week. Overall, the weekly average number of cases have declined this week, which is slightly down to around 760,000 cases. Areas in the Northeast and the South have especially decreased in the past week. The number of hospitalizations associated with COVID also stabilized. The number of deaths is expected to increase, given that the lag.
News You Can Use
- CBO released a helpful summary of recent trends in prescription drug spending. They found that the average net price of prescription drugs fell in Medicare Part D and Medicaid between 2009 and 2018. This reduction is largely driven by increased use of generics (which increased in usage from 70% to 90%). Brand-name drug costs increased during this time.
- Transplants – Axios reported that the number of transplants in 2021 increased 6% from 2020. Overall, 41,000 Americans underwent a transplant in 2021, a record number.
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