From Politico

‘Block Grants’ No More: Trump’s Medicaid Overhaul Has New Name, Same Goals

January 29, 2020

The Trump administration will rebrand its Medicaid block grant program and look to safeguard the policy against an expected wave of legal challenges from patient advocates, according to two officials with knowledge of the plan set for release Thursday.

The Trump administration will rebrand its Medicaid block grant program and look to safeguard the policy against an expected wave of legal challenges from patient advocates, according to two officials with knowledge of the plan set for release Thursday.

The forthcoming block grant program comes with a new name — “Healthy Adult Opportunity” — but retains the original mission long sought by conservatives: allowing states to cap a portion of their spending on Medicaid, a radical change in how the safety net health program is financed.

The block grant plan, which invites states to request capped funding for poor adults covered by Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, also would let states limit health benefits and drugs available to some patients.

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White House Prepared Short List to Shake Up HHS Leadership

January 22, 2020

White House officials drew up a short list of potential replacements for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Medicare chief Seema Verma at the height of their contentious feud in case either was forced out late last year, three people with knowledge of the exercise told POLITICO.

The officials developed the list days after the increasingly personal clash between Azar and Verma spilled into public view following a Nov. 26 POLITICO report that first detailed their rift. Two people with knowledge stressed that the names were not shared with President Donald Trump and that Azar and Verma are expected to remain in their roles through at least the rest of Trump’s first term.

White House officials drew up a short list of potential replacements for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Medicare chief Seema Verma at the height of their contentious feud in case either was forced out late last year, three people with knowledge of the exercise told POLITICO.

The officials developed the list days after the increasingly personal clash between Azar and Verma spilled into public view following a Nov. 26 POLITICO report that first detailed their rift. Two people with knowledge stressed that the names were not shared with President Donald Trump and that Azar and Verma are expected to remain in their roles through at least the rest of Trump’s first term.

Azar and Verma have worked to quell their feud since Vice President Mike Pence and White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney last month urged them to get along. Although Trump berated Azar over bad health care polling last week, White House and HHS officials said his job remains secure….

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Why Democrats Keep Winning on Health Care

November 6, 2019

Voters in Virginia and Kentucky sent a clear message on health care Tuesday night: Medicaid expansion and preexisting conditions are winning issues for Democrats, even as President Donald Trump and his allies try to undercut Obamacare. And strident GOP attacks on abortion weren’t enough to stave off Republican losses.

Democrat Andy Beshear, who claimed victory in Kentucky’s tight gubernatorial race, and Virginia Democrats who took back control of the state legislature promised to defend Obamacare’s popular insurance protections for preexisting conditions, and they railed against Republican plans to contract the law’s expansion of Medicaid to millions of poor adults.

Voters in Virginia and Kentucky sent a clear message on health care Tuesday night: Medicaid expansion and preexisting conditions are winning issues for Democrats, even as President Donald Trump and his allies try to undercut Obamacare. And strident GOP attacks on abortion weren’t enough to stave off Republican losses.

Democrat Andy Beshear, who claimed victory in Kentucky’s tight gubernatorial race, and Virginia Democrats who took back control of the state legislature promised to defend Obamacare’s popular insurance protections for preexisting conditions, and they railed against Republican plans to contract the law’s expansion of Medicaid to millions of poor adults.

Here are four takeaways on how health care pushed Democrats over the top Tuesday night…

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Why North Carolina Might Be the Most Innovative Health Care State in America

October 24, 2019

Two top Obamacare officials spent years in their Washington offices, right next door for a time, thinking about how to fix health care.

Then both came to North Carolina, determined to put their ideas to the test in the real world. One runs the state Health and Human Services Department, including Medicaid. The other led the state’s dominant private insurer. Combined, they cover well over 6 million people, more than half the state.

Two top Obamacare officials spent years in their Washington offices, right next door for a time, thinking about how to fix health care.

Then both came to North Carolina, determined to put their ideas to the test in the real world. One runs the state Health and Human Services Department, including Medicaid. The other led the state’s dominant private insurer. Combined, they cover well over 6 million people, more than half the state.

Together, they made North Carolina arguably the most innovative state in the country when it comes to improving how health care is delivered and addressing the underlying social and economic drivers, like homelessness, of poor health and high costs….

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Drug Prices Persistently Rising Despite Trump Efforts

July 2, 2019

Prescription drug prices jumped 10.5 percent over the past six months, more slowly than during the same period last year but still four times faster than inflation, despite increasing pressure on drugmakers from the Trump administration and Congress.

However, the top drug brands in the U.S. saw prices rise by an average of only 3.1 percent over the past six months according to Bernstein analysts, who calculated the average based on which brands — usually the top-sellers — they cover.

Prescription drug prices jumped 10.5 percent over the past six months, more slowly than during the same period last year but still four times faster than inflation, despite increasing pressure on drugmakers from the Trump administration and Congress.

However, the top drug brands in the U.S. saw prices rise by an average of only 3.1 percent over the past six months according to Bernstein analysts, who calculated the average based on which brands — usually the top-sellers — they cover.

The data showing an overall leap in generic and brand-name prices was preliminary and may not give a clear picture of trends in the industry. Yet while many of the price hikes on Monday were for lower-cost drugs, and a handful of branded products fell in price, critics of the drug industry were quick to pounce….

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