POLICY BRIEFINGS


President Encourages Murray, Alexander to Reopen ACA Negotiations


President Trump is encouraging Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to revive talks with Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on stabilizing the ACA. The effort stalled last year over an abortion-related disagreement. While both Murray and Alexander have appeared open to revisiting the issue of strengthening insurance markets, neither have altered their stance on the dispute over language to restrict funds to insurers that provide coverage for abortions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that the Senate will not consider any legislation related to the ACA until after the next election.


Lawmakers Urge Continued Delay of New OPTN Policy


Sens. Roy Bunt (R-Mo.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) have written to HHS Secretary Azar asking him to continue to delay changes made to the national liver distribution policy by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), pending additional information that the lawmakers have requested from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Blunt and Moran have expressed concerns about the potential for the new liver allocation policy to bias other organ distribution policies, and about the lack of adequate oversight of changes made by the OPTN.


Finance Releases Report on Medicaid Supplemental Payments


The Senate Finance Committee has released a majority staff report on the issue of Medicaid supplemental payments. The report calls for improved education and transparency to ensure that taxpayer dollars being used for Medicaid supplemental payments are spent appropriately and effectively. It urges the collection of non-disproportionate share hospital (DSH) supplemental payment data at the provider level.


Enzi to Retire in 2020


Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi (R) announced that he will not run for reelection next year. The four-term senator currently chairs the Senate Budget Committee and sits on the Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committees. Enzi stated that he wishes to focus on budget reform during his remaining time in Congress. There is currently speculation that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who challenged Enzi in the 2014 primary, will run to replace him in 2020.


House to Vote on Protections for Preexisting Conditions This Week


House leadership announced that the House will vote on the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act (H.R. 986) sometime mid-to-late this week. The bill would rescind U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Treasury Department guidance issued by the Trump administration in October 2018 that expanded the types of section 1332 waivers states could request to make changes to their ACA marketplaces. The guidance allows states to subsidize health plans that do not comply with all of the ACA’s standards. Democrats argue that the guidance undermines many of the law’s important consumer protections, such as those for individuals with preexisting conditions. H.R. 986 would also prohibit the issuance of any new rules that are substantially similar to the October 2018 guidance.


HHS Personnel Update


HHS has announced that Jack Kalavritinos, head of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs since December 2017, will be leaving the administration. Kalavritinos plans to join communications consulting firm APCO Worldwide. His replacement at HHS has not yet been announced.



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