Week In Washington: Medicare Spending, State Activities and the Passing of a Legend

February 8, 2019

Medicare Slowdown Research: One of the crucial mysteries in healthcare these days has been the slowdown in Medicare spending starting around 2005. David Cutler and a team of Harvard researchers found that approximately 50% of the Medicare slowdown is because of reductions in spending on heart disease and approximately 50% of that is due to drugs. The research shows preventative care can result in massive cost savings. You can read the article here .

Medicare Advantage Flexibilities: Policy changes in 2018 are allowing greater flexibility for Medicare Advantage. Faegre Baker Daniels has released a new study on the distribution of “flex benefits” Medicare Advantage plans are offering. You can find it here. If you’re generally curious about the new flexibility I’d highly recommend you check out Wakely’s webinar on the topic here.

State Activities: States continue to be the focal point for health policy these days:

  • California released its analysis of what would happen if the state enacted increased subsidies, cost-sharing wraps, and a mandate. You can find the analysis here.
  • Utah legislators are considering negating the recent successful ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in the state. There are several bills circulating although one of the more prominent has expanding Medicaid only up to 100% FPL rather than 138%, and given legal uncertainties with that approach, not expanding at all if falls through. Idaho’s legislature is also considering over-ruling a ballot initiative.
  • Florida- Advocates are gathering signatures for a petition that would send a Medicaid Expansion initiative onto the ballot for the 2020 election. Florida has the second most number of uninsured in the nation next to Texas.
  • Michigan Work Requirements: Manatt released new analysis on how work requirements would affect the state’s Medicaid program. You can read it here.

Sad News: In sad news, John Dingell passed away this week. For those that don’t know, John Dingell was the longest serving Congressmen in history and is arguably one of the chief architects behind Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and the ACA. You can read more about his remarkable life here.