Health and Human Services Newsletter | December 2017


Top Stories

11/21/2017- Massachusetts requested a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver that would allow them to choose which prescription drugs the states cover based on the majority of beneficiaries needs as well as which medicines prove to be the most cost effective. A leader in Medicaid innovation Massachusetts could spur other states to consider other waiver proposals to deal with rising prescription drug costs.

11/21/2017- Oregon Governor Kate Brown committed to keeping the  state’s CHIP program running with a financial commitment of $35 million dollars. Oregon is one of a dozen states that will run out of CHIP funding before the end of the year. CHIP funding continues to be at a stalemate in the U.S. Senate, prompting many states to now consider if they will find ways to continue funding on their own or start to freeze enrollment. 

From Congress

11/29/2017 – HHS (Health and Human Services) Secretary nominee Alex Azar went before the Senate HELP (Health Education Labor and Pensions) committee for his confirmation hearing. Azar’s questioning spanned the gamut from drug pricing, affordable and no-cost birth control policies for women, ACA (Affordable Care Act) enrollment marketing practices, and Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates. Azar previous served in the George W. Bush Administration as a Deputy Secretary of HHS and most recently as an executive for the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. 

From the Administration

11/13/2017 –Trump announced his pick for the next HHS secretary, Alex Azar. Azar served as the HHS deputy secretary under President George W. Bush, as an executive in several different divisions at Eli Lilly and Company,  and recently had started his own consulting firm.


11/28/2017 –Several hospitals, including the American Hospital Association (AHA), filed a lawsuit against HHS earlier in November and a federal judge announced that they will hear arguments on December 21st. The lawsuit contests the administration’s announcement to cut reimbursements rates in the 340B drug discount program. HHS announced there would be 22.5 percent cut in reimbursements to these programs, which include certain physician-administered drugs for hospitals serving low-income patients to take place on January 2018.

Agency Notices and Funding Announcements

A complete list of HHS notices, proposed rules, and final roles and links to the federal register can be read here.

For more information on NCSL’s Health and Human Services Standing Committee State-Federal Affairs activities, please visit our website, or email Haley Nicholson or Abbie Gruwell.

NCSL's Advocacy in Washington

NCSL's Washington staff advocate Congress, the White House, and federal agencies on behalf of state legislatures in accord with the policy directives and resolutions that are recommended by the NCSL Standing Committees and adopted by the full conference at the annual NCSL Legislative Summit Business Meeting. As a result of the advocacy that is guided by these policies positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.

NCSL Staff in Washington, D.C.

  • Neal Osten | 202-624-8660 | Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | Directors
  • Max Behlke | 202-624-3586 | Budgets and Revenue
  • Danielle Dean | 202-624-8698 | Communications, Financial Services
  • Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
  • Abbie Gruwell | 202-624-3569 | Human Services
  • Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure 
  • Jon Jukuri  | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
  • Haley Nicholson | 202-624-8662 | Health
  • Ethan Wilson | 202-624-8686 | Commerce and Financial Services
  • Joan Wodiska | 202-624-3558 | Education