Senate Committee on Finance: “Medicaid: Compliance with Eligibility Requirements”
Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019: The Senate Committee on Finance, Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on eligibility requirements under the Medicaid program. This hearing foreshadows action that is expected to be taken by the administration soon related to states’ ensuring Medicaid recipients are eligible for Medicaid.

Why this is important: The OIG recommended that states have better oversight over eligibility of enrollees, while the GAO identified the need for CMS to publicly share more data and take part in greater oversight of the state auditors. The Louisiana Legislative Auditor argued that states have too much latitude, and should be required to use federal tax data, with additional verification using federal databases.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities added that low-income Americans are having an unnecessary churn of going on and off coverage because it is difficult to reach them, or to report changes of status, and recommended better use of technology to do so.

In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) is planning a rule focused on how states determine who is eligible for Medicaid. The effort follows concern from Trump officials that states are improperly classifying certain Medicaid beneficiaries as ACA expansion enrollees and getting more federal funds than allowed.

The administration is also considering a separate regulation to make more transparent how states finance their Medicaid programs and their use of supplemental payments. Concern has been raised that oversight of these arrangements has been lax and may lead to overspending. CMS could issue rules this fall.

Find more details on the hearing here.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee: Health Legislation Markup, including Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drug Safety, Innovation, and Reform Act of 2019
Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a markup of eight bipartisan, public health bills, all of which were favorably reported to the Senate floor, by voice vote.

  • S. 1657, Ticks: Identify, Control, and Knockout Act
    Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME) and Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced this bill that will authorize centers of excellence and grants to states to improve treatment of diseases transmitted by vectors like mosquitos, ticks and fleas. The legislation will also require a national strategy to ensure federal agencies coordinate to combat these diseases.
  • S. 2619, Healthy Start Reauthorization Act of 2019
    Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced this bill to help prevent low birth weights to give babies the best opportunity at living long, healthy lives.
  • S. 1399, Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019
    Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Richard Burr (R-NN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced a bill to update and reauthorize programs that help ensure we have the trained nurses that are needed. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) added an amendment, adopted by voice vote, which added community health aides to the bill as well.
  • S. 995, Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2019
    Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced a bill to continue the support of state programs that give breaks to the 45 million Americans who provide care for a seriously ill or disabled family member with special needs.
  • S. 1130, Scarlett’s Sunshine on Sudden Unexpected Death Act
    Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced a bill that provides grants to help states prevent sudden unexpected infant and child deaths and to better understand the causes of these deaths.
  • S. 1608, Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act
    Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced a bill that requires the Department of Health and Human Services to routinely update its recommendations on exercise.
  • S. 2629, United States Public Health Service Modernization Act of 2019
    Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Doug Jones (D-AL) introduced a bill that allows the Secretary of HHS to create a ready reserve of public health professionals to ensure preparation in response to a national or public health emergency.
  • S. 2740, Over-the-Counter Drug Safety, Innovation, and Reform Act of 2019
    Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced this bill to modernize how over-the-counter medications are regulated and brought to market. The bill includes a provision that provides 18 months of market exclusivity for new or improved OTC products to promote innovation and streamlines the FDA’s OTC rule-making process. The bill also authorizes a five-year user fee program at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), allowing the FDA to make more hires in overseeing the industry.

Find markup details here.



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