Week in Washington 051321

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


On The Hill

  • A group of moderate Democrats raised concerns to Speaker Pelosi about the viability of HR 3, the prescription drug price reform bill.  With only slim majorities in the House and Senate, it’s increasingly an uphill fight for prescription drug reform (and consequently changes to Medicare) to be included in legislation this Congressional Session.
  • The Senate approved a motion to advance the nomination of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure for the position of CMS Administrator.  Brooks-LaSure is expected  to be confirmed by the end of the month. 


The FDA/CDC approved the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 12-15 (previously, the vaccine was approved for those 16 and older). About 55% of the eligible population (12 and older) has had at least one shot. Further good news from via polling data by YouGov/Economist shows vaccine hesitancy is declining, which hopefully will improve actual vaccine take-up.

United States, self-described vaccination status, percent of adults


  • SEP- The Biden Administration announced that over 1 million individuals signed up during the SEP in the Healthcare.gov states.
  • Inside Health Policy reported that HHS is considering a new rule that would limit (but not ban) short-term duration plans. 
  • Charles Gabba notes that there is some evidence that improved retention (higher effectuation, lower attrition) could result in Exchange enrollment being at an all-time high in 2021.
  • Wakely released its summary of the 2022 ACA Final Payment Notice.


  • OMB is reviewing a proposed Medicaid Rule that would revise/change the previously released Trump-era Medicaid best-price rule.
  • Rx Transparency – New Analysis from Capital Rx and 3 Axis Advisors, found that increasing prescription price transparency would save millions for Medicaid plans.
  • Medicaid Expansion – Two news items on Medicaid Expansion:
  • Missouri’s Governor dropped his plan to expand Medicaid after Missouri’s legislature refused to provide Medicaid expansion funding.  The result is that the Medicaid Expansion date of July 1st is in doubt, and advocates will turn to a lawsuit to force the state to expand its Medicaid program.
  • Advocates are focusing their efforts on expanding Medicaid via ballot initiative in Mississippi.  It’s been increasingly hard to expand Medicaid via ballot initiative as in recent years, many states have increased the threshold that is needed to enact Medicaid expansion.

Healthcare Employment

  • Axios reported on new data from the government released this week. Health care employment trends remained bearish as the sector lost 19,500 nursing and residential care facility jobs and hospitals lost 5,800 jobs last month. The industry is down over half a million jobs since the pandemic started last year.

Previous editions: 

5/06/2021: Week in Washington

4/29/2021: Week in Washington

4/22/2021: Week in Washington

4/15/2021: Week in Washington




4/08/2021: Week in Washington

3/25/2021: Week in Washington

3/18/2021: Week in Washington

3/11/2021: Week in Washington



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