Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


President Classifies Opioid Epidemic as National Emergency

The Trump Administration made a number of announcements in regard to the opioid crisis last week. During a briefing featuring first lady Melania Trump, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price, Acting Director of White House Office of National Drug Control
Policy (ONDCP) Richard Baum, Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly and advisers Kellyanne Conway and Jared Kushner, the President classified the opioid crisis as a national emergency. Based on the recommendations from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis interim report, the White House instructed federal agencies to use any appropriate emergency and other authority to respond to the epidemic. Secretary Price stated that ensuring widespread access to overdose reversing medication as well as review of opioid alternative painkillers by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are two priorities for the Administration. The Department is also examining privacy regulations to determine whether they can be made less onerous in cases of an overdose. The White House stressed that it is working to stop the movement of fentanyl into the U.S. and to increase federal drug prosecutions. It is also looking at ways to reduce the number of pills prescribed and the length of painkiller prescriptions.

CMS Releases Report on Insurer Exchange Participation

More than 40 percent of counties across the country could have only one insurer on its health insurance exchange in 2018. In an analysis released last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) predicts that 1,409 counties representing 2.5 million exchange participants will have only one insurance carrier. In addition, 17 counties are projected to have no issuer, leaving 9,595 Americans without coverage.

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