The legislation’s future has been thrown into question after it was punted at the end of last month. Alexander is now pushing for the legislation to be included in a government funding package when a long-term deal on that measure is reached.
Murray and other Democrats, though, want significant changes to the bill, saying that it needs to be redone now that Republicans have destabilized health insurance markets by repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the tax-reform bill last month.
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Section 1115 Medicaid demonstration waivers provide states an avenue to test new approaches in Medicaid that differ from federal program rules. While there is great diversity in how states have used waivers over time, waivers generally reflect priorities identified by states and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). On March 14, 2017, the CMS sent a letter to state governors that signaled a willingness to use Section 1115 authority to support work requirements and the alignment of Medicaid programs with private insurance policies.
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Mississippi has received the first-ever 10-year extension of a Medicaid Section 1115 demonstration waiver, allowing the state to continue providing family planning services for people with income of up to 194% of the federal poverty level.
The CMS said the 10-year extension is part of the agency’s effort to give states greater flexibility in running their Medicaid programs, without having to ask the government for frequent approvals. Up to now, the agency typically granted Section 1115 waivers, which are supposed to be budget-neutral for the federal government, for five-year periods.
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Whether it was bracing for a possible repeal of Obamacare or pondering an ambitious single-payer program that would overhaul how California provided medical care to its residents, the issue of healthcare kept politicians and policy wonks busy in 2017.
That’s not likely to let up in 2018.
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With debate raging over federal tax reforms, health care has temporarily moved off center stage in U.S. policy debates. But with costs soaring, it won’t stay in the backseat long. Progressives will continue to promote the single-payer idea, with Senator Bernie Sanders and others advocating for “Medicare for All.”
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, is a highly complex law and has made our current health care system more confusing. A single-payer system is attractive to many people because of its perceived simplicity – the U.S. government would provide direct health services to all Americans.
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The seemingly imminent repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance requirement, which could happen next week as part of the final passage of Republicans’ broad tax overhaul, has focused attention on Congress’ potential next moves on health care, including a bipartisan plan to shore up the insurance markets.
But that plan, sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D., Wash.), is losing support as more health analysts say it could raise costs for many consumers. The bill would restore payments to insurers, allowing them to cut premiums, but in doing so it would reduce the tax credits that are pegged in part to the premium costs of certain plans.
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American Democrats are following Bernie Sanders in embracing single-payer health care on the Canadian model. But when they get sick, our neighbors to the north increasingly find that the only way to get “free” medical care is to wait for weeks or months.
The Fraser Institute’s new report, “Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada” in 2017, documents the problem. The Vancouver-based think tank surveyed physicians in 12 specialties across 10 provinces and found “a median waiting time of 21.2 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment.” This is worse than 2016’s wait of 20 weeks, making it the longest in the history of Fraser’s annual survey and 128% longer than the first survey in 1993.
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House conservatives said they won’t support a short-term spending bill to fund the government if it contains provisions to “bail out” insurance companies.
A deal between moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would likely attach two bipartisan measures to stabilize ObamaCare’s insurance markets to the spending bill in exchange for her vote on tax reform.
But conservatives say that wouldn’t pass the House.
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Emboldened by election wins, Democrats are starting to see a political edge in health care, particularly widening Medicaid access for more low-income people.
In Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam promised a vigorous push as governor to expand Medicaid. Voters who said health care was important went decisively for Northam, according to political analysts. In Maine, voters defied Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s determined opposition by passing a referendum to expand Medicaid to cover an estimated 70,000 more residents.
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Californians better get comfortable. The wait time to see a doctor in the Golden State may be about to skyrocket.
Last week, California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and a select committee of representatives held two days of hearings in Sacramento on Senate Bill 562 — the Healthy California Act — which promises to enroll all Californians in a government-run, single-payer healthcare system.
The controversial bill passed the state Senate on June 1. But Speaker Rendon “parked” it because he said it did not give enough details on cost and coverage. The California Nurses Association is pushing hard for the Assembly to pass the bill early next year. It is unclear whether Governor Brown would sign it.
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