March 19, 2018, The Heritage Foundation, Robert Rector- Recent reports indicate that the Trump administration and House Republicans are considering work requirements in Medicaid as part of their overall health care reform package. Under the proposed policy, governors would be given the option of requiring able-bodied adults without dependent children enrolled in Medicaid to hold a job, perform community service, or undertake training as a condition of receiving Medicaid services. While the idea of requiring work, training, or other constructive activity in exchange for benefits is sound in principle, there are numerous reasons why this policy would prove ineffective. Moreover, there are better ways to promote work in the context of the health care reform debate.
March 18, 2018, Forbes, Bruce Jaspen- As more states consider expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, along comes another independent study showing increased government insurance for low-income Americans pays for itself. Take the state of Montana, which expanded Medicaid in 2016 to more than 90,000 people. A study out this month from the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research shows the expansion of Medicaid generates a half-trillion dollars a year in healthcare spending. Of that, 70%, or $350 million to $400 million, is “new money circulating in Montana’s economy.”
March 17, 2018, Politico, Paul Demko- Obamacare is no longer busting the bank for insurers. After three years of financial bloodletting under the law - and despite constant repeal threats and efforts by the Trump administration to dismantle it - many of the remaining insurers made money on individual health plans for the first time last year, according to a POLITICO analysis of financial filings for 29 regional Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, often the dominant player in their markets. The biggest reason for the improvement is simple: big premium spikes. The Blue plans increased premiums by more than 25 percent on average in 2017, meaning many insurers charged enough to cover their customers’ medical costs for the first time since the Affordable Care Act marketplaces launched in 2014 with robust coverage requirements.
March 15, 2018, Politico, Sarah Karlin-Smith- The FDA is considering setting a maximum nicotine level in cigarettes for the first time to make them less addictive and is seeking public feedback ahead of issuing a proposed rule. Lowering nicotine levels will make it harder for future generations to become dependent on cigarettes and make it easier for current smokers to quit or switch to less harmful products, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. The agency is seeking public comment on the proposal.
March 15, 2018, The Times-Picayune, Julia O’Donoghue- Louisiana officials will have to notify around 60,000 people who are elderly or disabled in early May that they are slated to lose their Medicaid benefits in July as a result of the Legislature’s stalemate over the state budget and taxes. Gov. John Bel Edwards has proposed eliminating some Medicaid programs that provide long-term care in order to cope with a $994 million budget deficit. The governor said he doesn’t want to put forward such cuts, but he doesn’t have much of a choice given the state’s financial restrictions starting July 1, when the new budget year begins. The Louisiana Department of Health is legally obligated to warn people about what might cuts be coming in July two months ahead of time, even if the programs are ultimately spared.
March 15, 2018, Daily Journal- While it might seem sometimes that no piece of legislation is officially dead in Jackson until legislators go home, it appears that efforts to implement a cigarette tax in Mississippi went up in smoke this week. The issue of increasing the cigarette tax, considered a long shot when the session began, appeared at one point to be gaining momentum this session. However, the bill containing language that could lead to the increase died Tuesday when it was not taken up in the House on a deadline day. The Senate bill authorized the issuance of bonds to pay for long-term construction projects on university and community college campuses and for other construction projects throughout the state, as reported by the Daily Journal’s Bobby Harrison.