Health Policy News – February 2019


While 2019 started slowly under the Federal shutdown, its pace of action has significantly quickened. We bring you a range of health policy updates in this edition of Health Policy News. With the comment period closed for the annual Exchange guidance, states await final guidance for 2020 related to the certification and oversight of Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) and Exchange operations. At the same time, State regulators are beginning preparations to ensure State policy is in line with Federal timelines and guidelines. Health Policy News held a webinar this month to highlight the proposed changes outlined in the guidance. More information about how to access materials from that event is below.

In other health policy news, if January is an indication of what is to come, 2019 should be a very busy year for prescription drug reform efforts. Three pieces of federal legislation were filed this month, with a multitude of reform approaches pending at the State level and another 1115 Medicaid Waiver approved to allow for direct negotiation with drug manufacturers. This month’s newsletter includes a summary of the proposed federal legislation, as well as updates on state-level reform efforts.

Finally, this month’s edition includes an update on an advisory committee being established by the Federal Department of Transportation to explore issues related to air ambulances. Our coverage also provides an overview of the concerns at play.

Health Policy News Hosts Webinar on Annual Exchange Guidance

On February 7, 2019, the Health Policy News team hosted a webinar highlighting the proposed changes outlined in the proposed Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020 and the 2020 Draft Letter to Issuers in the Federally-facilitated Exchanges. We were glad that many of our readers were able to join.  For those who were unable to attend, we have made the slides used during the webinar, as well as the summary of the proposed changes for 2020, available. Please click here to view the slides and summary.

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2019 Brings Progress on Prescription Drug Cost Control Efforts at State and Federal Level

As states and the Federal Government grapple with how best to address the issue of rising prescription drug costs, various models have emerged at the federal level that are similar to efforts underway at the state level. In January 2019, three pieces of drug cost control legislation were filed at the federal level, each proposing different methods to address rising drug costs. In addition to the proposed federal legislation, progress is being made at the state level on a number of new and ongoing prescription drug reforms efforts, including a recent report to the Vermont legislature on the feasibility of an importation program. Click here to read more about federal and state approaches to prescription drug cost control.

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Department of Transportation to establish a committee to study air ambulance billing practices

For some time, concern about out-of-pocket costs associated with air ambulance transport has been growing for many. State regulators across the country are seeking an exemption from the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 that would allow them to regulate air ambulances for the limited purpose of protecting consumers from excessive out-of-pocket costs. While such efforts have so far been unsuccessful, a small but meaningful step forward came last fall with the requirement that the Federal Department of Transportation create an advisory committee to explore air ambulance patient billing. Click here to read more about concerns relative to air ambulances and the charge of the new advisory committee.

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