Week in Washington: House Bills, STAR Ratings, 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: House Bills, STAR Ratings, and More


Hill Activity

Activity on the Hill on the health policy front has been focused on Speaker Pelosi’s prescription drug bill. The bill received a partial CBO score (it would save about $245 billion over 10 years). Today (10/17) the bill is being marked up in the Energy and Commerce Committee, who likely will vote on the bill in the near term. The bill still has a few other committee hearings before it’s voted on by the entire House. Ultimately, an agreement between President Trump and Speaker Pelosi would be necessary for the legislation to become law. 

Agency Activity

STAR Ratings Released – CMS released its MA STAR ratings this week. You can access it here. Approximately 52% of MA-PD plans offered in 2020 will have a 4 or 5 STAR rating. 

Judicial Activity

  • Public Charge – Three different federal judges blocked the implementation of the public charge rule. However, the proposal is still having a chilling effect on Medicaid and Individual market coverage according to some reports.
  • Medicaid Work Requirements – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard the Medicaid Work requirements case for Kentucky and Arkansas. The judges were highly critical of the government position. A ruling is expected this fall and the case will ultimately to be heard by the Supreme Court.

News You Can Use

  • United is adding an additional level of prior authorization to shift its members having outpatient surgeries away from hospitals to other settings.
  • US suicide rates of those 10-24 has increased 56% over the past decade according to new research by the CDC. In particular, the suicide rate of those 10-14 has tripled over the same time period. Overall, suicide is the second leading cause of death for those in these age ranges.


Previous editions: 

10/11/2019: Executive Actions, Public Options, and More

10/04/2019: New Executive Order to Impact Medicare Advantage

09/27/2019: Changes in the Employer Market 

09/20/2019: Major Prescription Drug Plan Unveiled

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