The Trump administration will encourage states to pursue work requirements for certain Medicaid beneficiaries, a top official said Tuesday.

The remarks by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma would signal a significant departure from the Obama administration’s approach to such requests.

Several states have already proposed work requirements, and Verma’s comments indicate a willingness to fast-track those approvals.

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Repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate will save $338 billion over 10 years, according to a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO said Wednesday it is changing the way it analyzes the mandate (and likely reducing the assumed cost impact) but said it is holding off on making those changes because the work is not complete.

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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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Voters in Maine approved a ballot measure on Tuesday to allow many more low-income residents to qualify for Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, The Associated Press said. The vote was a rebuke of Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican who has repeatedly vetoed legislation to expand Medicaid.

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The Trump administration is moving ahead with Obama-era requirements to post calorie counts in restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores and pizza delivery chains nationwide next year.

Despite years of opposition by some food sellers, the Food and Drug Administration is offering only minor compromises to industry complaints about the difficulties of displaying calories at takeout chains, self-service buffets and other non-restaurant food locations.

The FDA posted a preliminary guidance online Tuesday to help businesses comply with the law.

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, isn’t giving up on including a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate in the GOP’s tax reform bill.

Brady told radio host Hugh Hewitt Tuesday that he is still considering including mandate repeal in the tax bill, which was being marked up by his committee on Tuesday. Brady said he is expecting an updated score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on the impact of including repeal.

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Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, recently described in the Chicago Tribune as “a trusted ally of former President Barack Obama and chief architect of the Affordable Care Act” has proposed in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) a new “Affordability Index” to measure trends in the affordability of employer-provided health coverage.  Tracking the affordability of employer-sponsored insurance (which I will shorthand as ESI) is certainly worthwhile and important given that over half of the nation’s population relies on such coverage.

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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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Conservatives are attempting to revive efforts to gut Obamacare’s individual mandate as part of the Republican overhaul of the tax code.

But the House’s top tax writer, while leaving the door open to a measure President Donald Trump supports, said Friday that such a move would complicate the tax package’s prospects, particularly in the Senate.

“The president feels very strongly about including this at some step before the final process,” House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said of mandate repeal during a POLITICO Playbook interview. “No decisions have been made.”

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President Trump recently tweeted that GOP tax-writers should include a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in their tax reform legislation. This is a singularly bad idea that most Republicans are likely to reject. (Senators Tom Cotton and Rand Paul are exceptions, having seconded Trump’s suggestion.) It would be irrational and unproductive at this point to import the fractious political combat associated with health-care reform into tax negotiations that are already loaded with controversies.

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