The pre-existing-conditions offensive against the GOP is based on its votes to repeal ObamaCare. But the truth is that every Republican in Congress who voted for repeal also voted to require states to provide protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The GOP approach was to let each state figure out how best to accomplish this under a federal system that worked better than the Affordable Care Act. Republicans trusted leaders in state capitals to do better than Washington for the people of their states.

Each life saved from addiction is an important victory. And while the epidemic still rages, we are now seeing signs of national progress.

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its annual survey of Americans’ drug use and mental health. For the second year in a row, the number of Americans misusing legal or illegal opioids dropped. Even more encouraging, the number of Americans initiating heroin use dropped by around half from 2016 to 2017.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Wednesday that it has awarded more than $1 billion in grants to states, communities and organizations fighting the opioid crisis.

The vast majority of that funding — $930 million — is intended to support states’ efforts to provide treatment and prevention services to combat opioid abuse.

A bipartisan group of senators is unveiling a draft measure to crack down on surprise medical bills, which they say have plagued patients with massive unexpected charges for care.

The measure would prevent a health care provider that is outside of a patient’s insurance network from charging additional costs for emergency services to patients beyond the amount usually allowed under their insurance plan.

 

The Trump administration is close to issuing a new rule that could effectively ban rebate payments from drug manufacturers to pharmaceutical benefit managers, or PBMs. The plan is misguided. A full ban would backfire and increase costs to consumers.

The regulation, now under review at the Office of Management and Budget, could remove the safe-harbor protection for rebate payments under an anti-kickback law. But rebates are price discounts, not kickbacks. They reduce prices based on sales volume: Drug companies charge less when more of their drugs are sold to patients.

Maryland’s attorney general on Thursday filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s administration for recurring efforts he says are intended to dismantle the national health care law and chase people away from coverage.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court of Maryland comes as the latest push to scrap the Affordable Care Act has pressed ahead in Texas. Last week, 20 Republican-controlled states asked a federal judge to bring the law to a halt, arguing that the entire health statute was rendered unconstitutional after Congress repealed the “individual mandate” that required most Americans to buy insurance or risk a tax penalty.

As Affordable Care Act protections for people with pre-existing conditions continue to play a major role in the discourse surrounding health care legislation ahead of the midterm elections, a new Morning Consult/Politico survey shows widespread, bipartisan support among voters for these ACA provisions.

In the survey of 1,988 registered voters conducted Sept. 6-9, 83 percent of Democrats and 80 percent of Republicans say that insurance companies should not have the legal right to deny coverage for people who have pre-existing conditions. Among all registered voters, 81 percent had the same opinion.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced on Wednesday a new opportunity for those who failed to comply with the individual mandate in 2018 to avoid the corresponding tax penalty. The new policy allows hardship exemptions to be claimed without “the documentary evidence or written explanation generally required.”

Congressional appropriators on Thursday approved $90.5 billion in HHS appropriations in a spending package that includes $3.8 billion in opioids funding.  Congress designated $1.5 billion of the opioid funds to state response grants to replace the $500 million from the 21st Century Cures Act due to expire in May of 2019. The funding comes as the Senate heads for a Monday vote on its major opioids package.

The House Rules Committee says it will be considering a bill that would: 1. Change the ACA employer coverage mandate threshold for “full-time employee” to 40 hours per week, from 30 hours per week; 2. Keep the ACA employer coverage mandate from applying to any month beginning after Dec. 31, 2014, and before Jan. 1, 2019; 3. Postpone the start date of the ACA excise tax on high-cost health benefits packages to Dec. 31, 2022, from the Dec. 31, 2021; 4. Repeal an ACA excise tax on indoor tanning services; and 5. Require employers to provide Form 1095 coverage statements to individuals only when individuals ask for the statements, instead of having to send the statements to all employees, recently departed employees and certain dependents every year.