Dems Inquire on ACA User Fees

Democratic lawmakers have written to Secretary Azar and CMS Administrator Verma requesting details on how the administration spent the $1 billion in user fees generated by ACA marketplace exchanges. States and insurers that use healthcare.gov are charged a user fee that is used to cover the costs of running the exchanges during open enrollment. The letter questions whether the dedicated funding has been spent “effectively, legally, and appropriately” given cuts made by the administration to ACA marketing and outreach. The letter was signed by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Senate Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

Medicaid Block Grant Plan Underway at CMS

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is working to develop a plan that would provide states with additional flexibility to manage their Medicaid programs, while changing the program from an open-ended entitlement to block grant funding, according to sources within the Trump administration. Republicans had previously proposed Medicaid spending caps during the 2017 debate over repealing and replacing the ACA. CMS officials have voiced support for the concept of block grants. The idea remains a work in progress, though the agency hopes to announce the proposal early this year.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Meetings

Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine the nomination of William Pelham Barr, of Virginia, to be Attorney General, Department of Justice; 9:30 a.m., 216 Hart Bldg.; January 15

Senate Special Aging Committee hearing to examine fighting elder fraud, focusing on progress made and work to be done; 9:30 a.m., 562 Dirksen Bldg.; January 16

House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on prescription drug price increases; time and place TBD; January 29

Recently Introduced Health Legislation

S.3 — A bill to bring stability to the individual insurance market, make insurance coverage more affordable, lower prescription drug prices, and improve Medicaid; Sponsor: Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD]; Committees: Senate – Finance

S.11 — A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to strengthen the National Disaster Medical System, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Sen. Rubio, Marco [R-FL]; Committees: Senate - Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

S.12 — A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to improve access to health care through expanded health savings accounts, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Sen. Rubio, Marco [R-FL]; Committees: Senate – Finance

S.18 — A bill to amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to establish a methodology for determining State allotments for Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments that is based on State poverty levels, to require States to prioritize disproportionate share hospital payments on the basis of Medicaid inpatient utilization and low-income utilization rates, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Sen. Rubio, Marco [R-FL]; Committees: Senate – Finance

S.19 — A bill to exempt health insurance of residents of United States territories from the annual fee on health insurance providers; Sponsor: Sen. Rubio, Marco [R-FL]; Committees: Senate – Finance

S.22 — A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for coverage of dental services under the Medicare program; Sponsor: Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD]; Committees: Senate – Finance

H.Res.14 — Authorizing the Speaker, on behalf of the House of Representatives, to intervene, otherwise appear, or take any other steps in the case of Texas v. United States, and in any appellate proceedings arising from such case, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Allred, Colin Z. [D-TX-32]; Committees: House - Rules, House Administration

H.Res.16 — Recognizing the importance of access to comprehensive, high-quality, life-affirming medical care for women of all ages; Sponsor: Rep. Biggs, Andy [R-AZ-5]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.J.Res.17 — Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States regarding health care; Sponsor: Rep. McCollum, Betty [D-MN-4]; Committees: House – Judiciary

H.R.23 — To eliminate the sunset date for the Veterans Choice Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to expand eligibility for such program, and to extend certain operating hours for pharmacies and medical facilities of the Department, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Hudson, Richard [R-NC-8]; Committees: House - Veterans’ Affairs

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