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
Congress focused this week on budget issues (the current spending resolution expires in mid-February) as well as non-health care items (e.g., Russian sanctions and other legislation). Continued discussion of a reconciliation bill has been reported (some versions that has pieces of the bill known as Build Back Better might pass, but not the entire bill). The timing of such a reconciliation bill continues to shift back because of various factors (more likely, the Supreme Court nomination hearings, a Democratic Senator recently had a stroke, etc.) Consequently, legislation is unlikely to emerge before March at the earliest.
Following the Supreme Court ruling, the Biden Administration ended its requirements for employers over a certain size to have employees vaccinated or tested.
CMS released the proposed 2023 Advanced Notice for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. The Notice proposes an average increase in MA payments of 7.98% in 2023. They also solicited comments for changes to the risk adjustment and star ratings, with a particular focus on including the impact of social determinants of health and health equity. The Notice is expected to be finalized in April.
Medicare and COVID Testing
CMS also released a FAQ that starting in the spring, Medicare beneficiaries would be eligible for free at home COVID tests, through Medicare Part B.
COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to rapidly decrease. Cases fell about 33% in the past week. Initial test results indicate that immunity gained solely through infection of Omicron, may be time limited in duration, which may result in needs for additional boosters or future waves in the fall/winter.
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