Week in Washington: Budget Deal and More

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: Budget Deal and More


Budget Deal

The big health policy related news from Washington was a budget agreement. As of today (Wednesday), the House had passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill and sent it to the Senate for approval. The Senate is expected to pass the bill and the President to sign the spending bill before midnight on Friday. The budget deal includes a number of additional items:

  • The budget includes a repeal of 3 ACA taxes (Cadillac, medical device, and health insurance).
    • The Health Insurance Tax would be repealed permanently starting in 2021.
  • The bill would make permanent two ACA issues – silver-loading and auto-enrollment. The Trump Administration had threated to end both practices.
  • There’s a ton of other provisions in the $1.3 trillion spending bill including:
    • Raises purchasing age of cigarettes to 21
    • Funding for gun violence research for the first time in 20 years
  • It’s likely that a number of the regulations that people have been expecting (e.g., Payment Notice) have been held pending negotiations with Congress (i.e., expect them soon).
  • The next window for legislation (prescription drugs, surprise billing) will open up in about 5 months. Don’t expect any major legislation until then.

Drug Importation

The Administration rolled out this week a new proposed plan on allowing states to import drugs from Canada. The proposed would allow states, pharmacies, and wholesalers to purchase certain drugs from Canada, albeit subject to FDA approval. The rule is proposed and the expectation is that it may be at least a year (if not longer) before it would be enacted.

Stat of the Day

As Axios reported (from Kaiser Data) over the past decade Medicaid per enrollee costs have increased 12.5%, Medicare per enrollee costs have increased 21.5%, and private insurance costs have increased 52.6%. 

Happy New Year!

As this is the last Week in Washington for 2019, I just wanted to wish everyone happy holidays!

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