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
Timing - One of the big questions is when will Congress work on its next major bill that affects health policy? The answer is unfortunately unknown. Congress is aiming to first tackle the topic of infrastructure before shifting to the American Families Act, which has health care items. In fact, the health care policies in the American Families Act might grow as Democratic legislatures and activists are pushing for the inclusion of additional policies. Namely:
Medicaid Expansion – Despite the additional financial incentives, no state that has not approved Medicaid Expansion appears to be shifting towards it. Consequently, according to Politico, Georgia’s Senators are pushing for a federalized Medicaid Expansion for states that have not done so.
Public Option – There’s also a push by some to include a public option in the individual market.
Biden Position – It should be noted the Biden budget (a summary of his key policy preferences) will be released tomorrow and should give insight into which policies the President will push for.
The Senate confirmed Chiquita Brooks-LaSure as CMS Administrator. The expectation is other political positions in CMS will be filled soon as well. This could increase the rate of new regulations and guidance coming out of CMS.
The Supreme Court session is ending soon, and still no ACA (California v. Texas) ruling. The ACA constitutional case is likely to be released in the next few weeks (with the next potential slot on Tuesday).
Numbers – Overall national numbers continue to experience rapid declines. Cases decreased another 20%, and hospitalizations due to COVID are at the lowest level since April 2020. While national numbers have declined precipitously, there is significant variation based on vaccine rates. For example, in the last two weeks, cases are down 40% in the five states with the highest vaccination rates but up almost 4% in states with the lowest vaccination rates.
Immunity – The NY Times reported on a new study that indicates COVID immunity could last at least a year. Consequently, the report concluding that those that have recovered from COVID and got vaccinated might not need a booster this year, although those vaccinated who weren’t infected will likely need a booster.
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