Senate Democrats, including several of the party’s presidential candidates, have savaged President Trump for proposing to reduceMedicare spending by several hundred billion dollars over the next decade.

Senator Kamala Harris of California said the proposed changes in Medicare “would hurt our seniors.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted, “The Trump administration wants to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the #Medicare budget, all while giving billionaires and giant corporations huge tax breaks.”

If the president is looking for a government to blame for distorted U.S. drug prices, he need look no further than our own. The federal government requires manufacturers to pay rebates, grant discounts, and comply with various price-distorting directives across a range of programs.


Legal challenges aren’t slowing down the Trump administration’s push to reframe Medicaid as something closer to a welfare program.

Driving the news: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Friday approved Ohio’s proposal to add work requirements to its Medicaid program.

  • Just a day earlier, Justice Department lawyers were back before the same federal judge who ruled against work requirements last year, urging him to let the policy move forward now.

The CMS rolled out new tools on Thursday to help states get approval to make changes to Medicaid such as implementing work requirements.

The CMS Administrator Seema Verma defended the administration’s push to get more states to pursue 1115 demonstration waivers even as the agency faces criticism over coverage losses due to work rules.

The CMS is asking the public for ideas and advice on how to make it easier for health insurers to sell policies across state lines. The agency issued a request for information on Wednesday for recommendations on eliminating barriers and enhancing insurers’ ability to sell individual insurance coverage from state-to-state. The request, which the CMS said is meant to promote competition and choice for consumers, follows President Trump’s October 2017 executive order on cost and competition in the health sector. CMS said it is interested in feedback about how states could use Section 1333 of the ACA, which allows insurers to enter into a “healthcare choice compact,” to sell out-of-state coverage if state regulators agree.

The Trump administration is sounding out an idea to require that hospitals, doctors and other medical providers publicly disclose the “secretly-negotiated” prices they charge insurance companies for services, a move that proponents say would expose for the first time the actual cost of care. [Some are skeptical that anyone in the health sector knows the actual cost of care.] Hospitals and insurers negotiate pricing contracts which are generally bound by confidentiality. HHS is seeking public comment on whether patients have a right to see the discounted prices in advance of obtaining care. 

The Trump administration wants to know what challenges employer and group health plans face in maintaining grandfathered status for Affordable Care Act plans.

The Treasury and Labor departments and HHS issued the request for informationlate Thursday. The request comes as the number of grandfathered plans fall.

The agencies want to understand “whether there are opportunities for the departments to assist such plans and issuers,” the rule said. 

Galen Institute president Grace-Marie Turner testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Feb. 13 about preserving consumer protections in health insurance while giving consumers more choices of affordable coverage.  She focused on:

  • The Trump administration’s Section 1332 guidance which gives states new authority to help their individual and small group markets heal from the damage the ACA has done. Early waivers have seen premium costs reduced by 30% or more and enrollment in health coverage increase.
  • The importance of the administration’s new rule allowing people to purchase temporary health insurance (so called Short-Term Limited Duration Plans) to help them bridge gaps between coverage, either because they are between jobs, starting new businesses, or retiring early
  • The strong commitment on both sides of the political aisle to pre-existing condition protections
  • And the value of private agents and brokers in doing outreach for exchange enrollment—enrolling 40% of policyholders vs 1% for the ACA-created Navigators

The Trump administration is proposing steps aimed at improving patients’ access to their own health data, bolstering efforts to bring information including insurance claims, hospital and doctor records to digital devices such as smartphones.

Federal health regulators unveiled two major proposed regulations closely watched by health and technology companies, amid a growing flood of health data that has become an ever-more-valuable asset. The draft rules touch on a broad array of issues, including technology standards that are supposed to help unlock digital data stored in the electronic health records used by hospitals and doctors to track patients’ care.

The White House’s plan to lower federal drug payments and stop incentivizing doctors to use the most expensive drugs is a long-overdue, commonsense move to control our nation’s health care costs. And its implementation should be a top priority.

Spending for health care is unsustainable, representing about 17 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. In fact, it’s outpacing GDP growth by 1 percent annually.