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Week in Washington
Biden and the American Families Plan
This week the Biden Administration unveiled the American Families Plan (AFP). The AFP is shaping up to be the next major piece of legislation by the Biden Administration. The plan includes large increases in spending for college education, childcare, child tax credits, and other items financed through increases in taxes on wealthier Americans, corporations, and increased tax enforcement.
The major health care item included in the proposed legislation would be to make permanent the ACA subsidies increases that were in the American Relief Plan, which are currently slated to expire at the end of 2022.
What was not included in the proposal, although mentioned during Biden’s speech before Congress, was changes to the Medicare program as well as drug price reform. This issue of Medicare/drug price reform will be a highly contested issue and may ultimately be included in the AFP, after Congress debates the bill.
Next steps: Congress is expected to debate the American Families Plan, infrastructure plan, as well additional health care topics (Medicare/drug pricing) in the coming weeks/months. At this stage the timing (and probability of passage) of the various legislation pieces are very unclear.
In the good news column, this week there was good news for both COVID and the economy. New COVID cases fell about 16% in the past week, reaching levels not seen since October. Economic news also was good as new GDP figures released, showed that the economy grew, on an annualized basis 6.4%. The increase was attributable largely to the stimulus funding in addition to loosening restrictions/individuals being vaccinated. Currently about 43% of the total population have received at least one dose.
The Census bureau released the first round of 2020 data. The Census data will be used for apportioning House seats in 2022 as well as influences multiple federal funding streams. As a result of the census finding Texas, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, and Florida gained relatively more population and consequently picked up House Seats. According to one Congressional expert (Dave Wasserman), the Census results will increase the chances Republicans win back the House in 2022.
The State of Ohio has sued its largest Medicaid managed care company, alleging the company used its Medicaid managed care company and PBMs to increase Medicaid payments. There is the potential for other states to follow suit.
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