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Week in Washington
President Biden released his annual budget this week. The annual budget lays out Presidential goals rather than actual law/policy. Within the budget, the President proposes to address Medicare solvency issues by increasing taxes on those making over $400,000 a year. It also proposes to allow Medicare to negotiate more drugs (effectively increasing the size and scope of the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act). Biden’s proposed budget would extend the Medicare trust fund solvency for 25 years.
Medicaid and Debt Ceiling
Discussions continue as GOP positions on potential Medicaid cuts. Several outlooks, including politico, reported that Republicans were continuing to discuss plans to enact Medicaid cuts. Politico reported that some Republicans were considering reviving the 2017 plan to phase out enhanced federal matching and cap spending. Previously, the CBO had estimated such a plan would reduce spending by $880 billion over 10 years and reduce Medicaid enrollment by about 21 million people. Other ideas were included, one was introducing work requirements.
North Carolina Medicaid Expansion
North Carolina’s House and Senate reached agreement on Medicaid expansion. The agreement, if enacted, would expand coverage to nearly 600,000 North Carolinians who were previously not covered. The bill, if enacted, would shift a substantial number of people out of the ACA Marketplace and into Medicaid. North Carolina is currently one of eleven states that have not yet expanded Medicaid. The exact timing of the bill for passage and the effective date of implementation are still being discussed. Currently, the expanded Medicaid coverage would start either on the passage of the 2023-24 budget or on a federally approved day.
Drug makers are working with community health centers, providers, and consumer advocates where they were on the Hill this week advocating for changes to the 340B program. There is some bipartisan agreement on improving the 340b program.
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