Coffee CAHC policy round up May 18, 2018


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Coffee CAHC is a weekly newsletter where we round up and comment on the latest health coverage policy developments both nationally and here in Maine. We hope you find these updates helpful! Have suggestions or feedback? Let me know ([email protected]). If you like these emails, please share them with others, and ask them to sign up here.

Coffee CAHC
115th Congress, 2nd session
128th Maine Legislature, 2nd regular session

Good afternoon Coffee CAHC readers! After a week’s absence, sure am glad to be home! (Okay, so home isn’t Avalon. But I do feel it. Thank you, Mississippi John Hurt.)

National level

Healthy America
We’re intrigued by the Urban Institute “Healthy America Program,” which would combine people enrolled in Medicaid and the individual market into a single, large insurance pool. Good stuff: both private insurance and a public option would be available; ACA protections would remain; and, subsidies would be more generous. A reduction in the standard tax deduction would replace the individual mandate. What’s more, people in public benefit programs would be automatically enrolled. Sticking points? Provider payments would be capped at Medicare rates and an increased Medicare tax would be applied. If you don’t have time to read the full report, take a look at HealthCareDive’s summary.

Representative Bruce Poliquin is a co-sponsor of legislation that would rescind $7 billion in unspent funds dedicated to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). That’s a really bad idea because it assumes states won’t need those funds to meet unanticipated demand for the program. Even worse, the rescission package is being used to pay for the recent and massive tax cuts. We feel pretty queasy about that. If you do too, please let your members of Congress know.

The Trump Administration released its “blueprint” to tackle rising prescription drug costs. While all of us here at CAHC held out hope the plan would contain something concrete, we were disappointed. Its major flaw is that it doesn’t remove the prohibition on Medicare negotiating prices with drug companies. Check out Mitchell Stein’s eloquent “smoke and mirrors” summary of the President’s plan and the concise statement from Rob Restuccia at Community Catalyst about how the President’s plan misses the mark.

State level

Special session?
We’ve heard rumors about a special session but don’t have any specific information to share. We hope you will continue to contact lawmakers to encourage them to return to Augusta asap. There’s a lot of unfinished business, including: raises for direct care workers, Medicaid expansion, and proposals to help address the drug crisis.

Medicaid Expansion
Oral arguments in the lawsuit against DHHS for its failure to file a Medicaid expansion plan will be heard next week in Portland. Meanwhile, in defiance of the will of the people, Governor LePage keeps making dubious excuses for not taking appropriate and timely steps to implement the law.

Want to know more (or feeling a bit adversarial)?

Six states are suing the makers of various opioids in state courts. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims certified a class action suit against the Trump Administration for failure to pay Cost-Savings-Reductions under the ACA. A federal judge has agreed that Blue-state Attorneys General can defend the ACA. And the Maine Law Court heard arguments  that MaineCare should cover abortion.

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See you there!

P.S. Many thanks to early sponsors of CAHC’s 30th Anniversary Event!
Leader Sponsors

Community Health Options
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Friend Sponsors

AARP Maine
Camden Coast Real Estate
City of Portland Public Health

Drummond Woodsum Strategic Consulting

Maine Center for Economic Policy

Maine Equal Justice Partners
Maine Medical Association
Maine People’s Alliance
Moose Ridge Associates

Preti Flaherty

Consumers for Affordable Health Care

Advocating the right to quality, affordable health care for every person in Maine.

PO Box 2490 Augusta, ME 04338-2490