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
A bevy of new Covid variants have been overtaking the current dominant variant (b.5). There are about half a dozen slightly different variants that have similar mutations which appear to have greater immune escapability of the current version. The result is a growing expectation there will be a spike in Covid cases in November. There are currently substantial increases of cases in Europe and Asia, which has typically preceded an increase in US cases.
President Biden signed an executive order that would require CMMI to propose a plan to lower drug prices. While the drug negotiation provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act has not yet fully been enacted, there is pressure to continue to push for lower drug prices. CMMI has 90 days to publicly announce its plan on lower drug prices.
South Dakota and Medicaid
The only state to have Medicaid on the ballot this year is South Dakota. Voters in South Dakota will decide whether to approve Medicaid expansion, which increases coverage to nearly 40,000 people.
Individual Market Enrollment Up
KFF analysis estimates there are approximately 16.9 million enrollees in the individual market, which is the highest since 16.9[SS1] . While there have been large increases in on-Exchange subsidized enrollment, some of the gains have been offset by declines in unsubsidized coverage, increasing non-ACA compliant plans. Overall, there’s only about 1.3 million enrollees in non-ACA individual market coverage, down from almost 6 million in 2015.
Delayed Care Effects
Researchers have started to analyze the long-term effects of delayed/cancelled care as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Using mortality and electronic medical records, new research was able to isolate the effects of cancelled medical appointments. In particular, they were able to estimate that having a cancelled appointment date in 202[SS2] , increased one-year mortality by 4 deaths per 10,000. This suggests other effects of more serious health care conditions as a result of the pandemic are likely.
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