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Week in Washington
Senate Democrats revealed the key priorities for their spending package (i.e., the reconciliation bill). While the actual bill still needs to be written, debated, and ultimately passed (i.e., it will change), provisions included initially a far more likely to happen than those that are not.
Included in the package:
Extension of the American Rescue Plan ACA Subsidies
Medicaid plan for individuals living in states that have not expanded in Medicaid
Funding for long term care
Not included in the package: changes to the eligibility age for Medicare or a public option. There is some language on changes to Medicare prescription drug prices, but it’s unclear what that could include.
Senate Democrats are expected to make a large push on the package over the next few weeks, so the situation is likely to be clearer shortly.
There were two big changes in regards to Adulhelm, the controversial and expensive Alzheimer’s drug. CMS officially announced it would conduct a National Coverage Determination, which could result in limitations on the drug. The FDA also updated the label use for the drug, stating it’s only meant for early-stage patients.
HHS released new data on enrollment in Medicaid and the ACA Exchanges. On the ACA side, HHS found that over 2 million people had signed up for coverage during the Special Enrollment Period (which started February 15). HHS also released its February 2021 Medicaid and CHIP enrollment snapshot and found that enrollment was at a new record high of 81 million (or 500,000 higher than in January 2021).
June Inflation numbers reached the highest level since August 2008. Overall inflation was 5.4% year over year. Cars and trucks drove a third of the increase. Medical care commodities and services remained low.
COVID cases doubled in the past week. The new Delta variant has resulted in case increases in at least 45 states. Hospitalizations and deaths have also increased substantially, but there is growing evidence that vaccination rates should limit the number of severe cases. Additionally, research seems to have confirmed that the Delta variant is not any more severe than previous versions of the virus (just more transmissible).
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