Fit to Print. News Update 11/08/2017

EHCI News Update 2

Leading the News

House Tax Bill Would Eliminate Medical Expense Deduction.

The AP  (11/7, Alonso-Zaldivar) reports, “Several million people...would lose a valuable deduction” under the House tax bill, which would repeal the medical expense deduction. According to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, “about 9 million households — 6 percent of tax filers — claim” the deduction, for a total of about $10 billion annually. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee argue that a lower rate, and higher standard deduction, “would compensate for the loss of particular tax breaks.” The deduction only applies to expenses in excess of 10 percent of income.

The Wall Street Journal  (11/7, Hughes, Subscription Publication) reports Republican Senators plan to keep the medical expenses deduction, which, the Journal says, would cost about $182 billion over 10 years.

Cruz Wants ACA Mandate Repeal In Tax Bill, Brady Says It’s Still Being Considered. Bloomberg News  (11/7, Litvan) reports on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz said at a news conference that the tax reform bill should include a repeal of the individual health insurance mandate from the Affordable Care Act. He said that repeal would be “a tax cut for the 6.5 million Americans who now pay a penalty because they don’t have health insurance coverage.”

Roll Call  (11/7, McPherson) reports House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady “left open the possibility” of including mandate repeal in the tax bill.

Public Health and Private Healthcare Systems

CMS Administrator Welcomes Community Engagement Requirements For Medicaid.

The Washington Post  (11/7, Cunningham) reports Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma on Tuesday said in an address to the National Association of Medicaid Directors, that CMS will allow states “to impose work requirements on enrollees.” She said, “Believing that community engagement requirements do not support the objectives of Medicaid is a tragic example of the soft bigotry of low expectations consistently espoused by the prior administration.”

USA Today  (11/7, O'Donnell) reports Verma said that CMS will “roll back burdensome regulations (that) don’t meaningfully improve care.”

The New York Times  (11/7, Pear, Subscription Publication) reports Verma told “state health officials that the federal government would be more receptive to work requirements and other conservative policy ideas.”

Maine Voters Choose To Expand Medicaid.

The New York Times  (11/7, Goodnough, Subscription Publication) reports voters in Maine approved a ballot initiative Tuesday that would expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act to around 80,000 additional residents. The results were “a rebuke” of Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), who has vetoed legislation to expand Medicaid five times. Maine becomes the first state to expand Medicaid by a ballot measure.

The Washington Post  (11/7, Phillips) reports that the ballot initiative “passed overwhelmingly” by a “nearly 20-percentage point margin.” The Post adds that this “could provide momentum for progressives to get voters in other states to expand Medicaid, such as Alaska and Idaho, where groups have already started similar Medicaid expansion ballot initiatives next year.”

Arkansas’ Medicaid Changes Delayed By Lack Of Federal Approval.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette  (11/7, Davis) reports a spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Amy Webb, said Monday that the state will delay proposed changes to its expanded Medicaid until after January 1 because the federal government has not yet approved its proposals. The state seeks to change the eligibility requirements – which would move 60,000 off the program – and impose work requirements. The state said its request had to be approved by CMS by Thursday in order to take effect on January 1.

Iowa Delays Plan To Add Third Company Back Into Privatized Medicaid System.

The AP  (11/7) reports that Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven announced Tuesday that the agency will hire a third company for its privatized Medicaid program to start in 2019. The department had previously said it hoped to have another company start in July 2018. Foxhoven’s update comes just “one week after AmeriHealth Caritas announced it will drop Medicaid coverage in Iowa at the end of the month after failed contract negotiations with the state.” He added that UnitedHealthcare will “take over coverage” for AmeriHealth Caritas beginning December 1.

Federal Investigator Says Ohio Owes $29.5 Million For Improper Medicaid Bonuses.

The Columbus (OH) Dispatch  (11/7, Siegel) reports the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General says Ohio “owes the federal government $29.5 million for improper bonus payments rewarding the state’s effort to sign up children for Medicaid.” The federal investigators say that the “state overstated its enrollment by including children that did not qualify” because Ohio “incorrectly included blind and disabled children in its count.” Michelle Horn, CFO of the Ohio Department of Medicaid, disputed the findings and said that the guidance provided by CMS improperly “disqualifies children who are blind or disabled from the performance bonus payment calculation.”

Notre Dame Announces Insurer Will Continue To Provide Birth Control Coverage Through Separate Policy.

The AP  (11/7, Davies) reports the University of Notre Dame last week told employees they would no longer have coverage of birth control in their insurance after President Trump expanded exemptions from the requirement under the ACA. Yesterday, the university announced that its insurer, Meritain Health, “is continuing to offer contraception coverage not funded by the university.” Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown said Meritain Health “would continue such coverage indefinitely.” The New York Daily News  (11/7, Scotti) reports the university “made a point of noting that their insurance provider will offer a separate plan that includes contraception coverage not paid for by the university.”

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