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: Elections, Regulations, and Open Enrollment Early Results
A busy week on the health policy front. A few highlights:
Elections: Several state-level and local elections occurred this past week.
- Virginia: For the first time since the early 1990s, Democrats won a clean sweep of Virginia. They now control the House, Senate, and governorship. The expectation is the state will revoke their Medicaid waiver application for work requirements.
- Kentucky: In an upset, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear won more votes than the incumbent Republican Governor Bevin. The Bevin campaign has asked for a recanvassing of the votes (i.e., check for clerical errors). Assuming Beshear holds on and takes power, Beshear has declared he would move to end the work requirements Medicaid waiver. The Kentucky legislature is still dominated by Republican legislatures so there will likely be battles between the two sides on the issue of Medicaid.
- Transparency: CMS is delaying its proposed rules that would have required hospitals to post their standard prices. CMS said they’d consider the issue in the future but for now the issue is off the table as a requirement.
- Medicaid Deregulation: CMS Administrator, Seema Verma, hinted that new regulations will be forthcoming to give states more regulatory flexibility for their Medicaid programs.
- Premiums: The Kaiser Family Foundation released their final analysis of 2020 premiums. Overall their analysis found that the benchmark premiums decreased about 3.5%. This is a larger decrease than the lowest cost-silver or lowest cost-bronze. In many counties, this means subsidized enrollees not in the second-lowest cost silver plan will see premium increases.
- ACA Open Enrollment: While only a few days into Open Enrollment for 2020, HHS released figures showing that 2020 enrollment is behind 2019 enrollment. Healthcare.gov has several glitches in the opening days that contributed to the lower enrollment.
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