LAST WEEK IN REVIEW: Monday, Nov. 20th – Friday, Nov. 24th

LAST WEEK IN REVIEW: Monday, Nov. 20th – Friday, Nov. 24th

Despite the shortened news week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday, there were no shortage of updates on the health policy front. Around the states, anxiety continues to mount regarding the funding lapse and lack of reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Even though the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent millions of dollars to states in recent weeks to stem the tide, states at risk of a funding shortfall by the end of December include Oregon, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Washington and Arizona.

Speaking of Arizona, the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the state’s Medicaid expansion last week, maintaining coverage for the 400,000 residents who gained insurance through the 2013 expansion. Also on the Medicaid front, Massachusetts made waves after submitting a new innovation waiver to CMS, proposing to negotiate Medicaid drug prices. Also in the Bay State, Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, signed a law to ensure free birth control across the commonwealth—a response to the Trump Administration’s moves last month to relax the contraception mandate.

In the latest on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance sign-ups continued to defy expectations with more solid numbers for the third week of the open enrollment period. There is still a lack of clarity on whether or not enrollment numbers will be able to reach last year’s enrollment of 12.2 million. Meanwhile, community health centers across the country continued to advocate for reauthorization of the now-lapsed grant funding that allows them to care for 26 million Americans.

Most notably, though, Congress continued to consider changes to some of the key architecture of the ACA in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Despite actuarial statements that repealing the law’s individual mandate would increase premiums, GOP efforts in the Senate to do so picked up key support when Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced her support for the move. Meanwhile, the Alexander-Murray bipartisan effort to restore ACA subsidies for cost-sharing reduction payments may have found new life in the end-of-year spending package.

In the week ahead, stay tuned for the fate of the individual mandate in the Senate tax reform bill, the Hill’s response to increased pressure to address the health care crisis in Puerto Rico, and (hopefully) progress on reauthorization efforts for CHIP and community health centers.