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
American Recovery Plan
President Biden signed into law the American Recovery Plan today. The Washington Post has a good summary of the overall bill, which includes stimulus checks, extending unemployment benefits, child tax credits, aid to state and local governments, pandemic response, housing assistance, health provisions, and more. The first wave of stimulus checks is expected to be sent out this weekend.
Edwin Park and Sabrina Corlette have a good summary of the Medicaid/ACA provisions here. The Medicaid provisions include additional funding for Medicaid Expansion, extending postpartum coverage, requirements for COVID vaccine, and starting in 2024 eliminates the cap on total drug rebates.
Katie Keith has a good summary of the ACA provisions here. The provisions increase the amount of subsidies available to individuals who have coverage through the Exchange for 2021 and 2022. For those pricing plans in 2022, the below is a good comparison for the additional subsidies relative to the subsidies available in 2020. As a reminder, the additional subsidies expire in 2023.
Given that the additional subsidies are technically retroactively applicable, there are key operational questions as to how quickly an Exchange can implement the provisions and, more generally, how they operationalize some of the provisions. HHS will likely need to release guidance for some of the key provisions.
The law also allows Medicare to pay companies for ambulance services rendered to patients who are not taken to a hospital.
With the passage of the COVID stimulus bill, Congress is expected to turn to other bills. While there is no agreement on exactly what is next, the topics being mentioned include infrastructure, improving manufacturing, and voting rights. It’s unlikely that Congress will tackle health care topics until the Fall.
The Supreme Court called off its expected hearing on Medicaid work requirements after the Biden Administration announced that it would change Federal regulations on the matter. This should generally mean that work requirements will not re-emerge for a while.
The US Preventative Services Task Force voted to extend free screenings for lung cancer to those age 50. Currently, those 55 and older are eligible for this service. Given the recommendation, nearly 15 million people will be eligible for a free screening. Private insurance must cover services without cost-sharing, recommendations from the task force.
MEDPAC released an article with a particular focus on Medicare spending. MEDPAC estimated that Medicare spends more on MA plans than FFS Medicare for the same enrollees. Over the next few years, there is likely to be more focus on ways to constrain Medicare spending, given the looming Medicare Trust shortfall.
3/04/2021: Week in Washington
2/25/2021: Week in Washington
2/18/2021: Week in Washington
2/11/2021: Week in Washington