Health and Human Services Newsletter | Jan. 2019



01/25/2019–01/27/2018 – Legislators and legislative staff from across the country gathered in New Orleans for the first meeting of the NCSL Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Fellows, and for the second class of the NCSL Opioid Policy Fellows. Both groups discussed pressing MCH and opioid/substance misuse policies and developed action steps to take in moving forward. The groups also met to hear from health and human services policy experts, including from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Senior Advisor Calder Lynch and Dr. Jay Butler, former commissioner and chief medical officer of the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services.

Photos: Left: CMS Senior Advisor Calder Lynch. Right: Dr. Jay Butler from Alaska

From Congress

01/30/2019 – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Finance Committee kicked off hearings addressing prescription drug pricing practices. The issue of prescription drug pricing has been an ongoing discussion in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle. Some members of the committee expressed their dissatisfaction with certain pharmaceutical company representatives who declined to testify. Congressional leaders on both sides have also expressed interest in working with the administration on their proposals to address prescription drug costs.

From the Administration

01/17/2019 – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a proposed Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020. The CMS proposes several different changes to issuers and health insurance exchanges that start on or after Jan. 1, 2020, and also builds upon the agencies’ 2017 Market Stabilization Rule. The proposal includes changes for the Exchange and Qualified Health Plan. Provisions include direct enrollment, navigator programs, prescription drug benefits, segregation of funds for abortions services, and silver loading, among other aspects of Qualified Health Plans.

01/28/2019 – The Children’s Bureau at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families published its 28th Child Maltreatment Report. The report uses and analyzes data collected by state child protective services agencies. This year’s report, based on 2017 data, finds that an estimated 674,000 children were determined to be victims of maltreatment, a decrease from 2016 numbers.

From The States

01/24/2018 – A bill has been proposed in Wyoming asking the state’s Department of Insurance to analyze the costs and benefits of expanding its Medicaid program. This would be an updated effort from 2011 when a similar study was conducted.

01/24/2019 – In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly (D) affirmed there will be a new task force to create a plan to expand the state’s Medicaid eligibility. This will include increased eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program, which currently serves 400,000 residents. Medicaid expansion has come up in the legislature but faced opposition, and some have called on Kelly to hold public advisory meetings with the task force.

From The Courts

01/04/2019 – In response to a federal judge in Texas who struck down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in December 2018 as unconstitutional, a group of 17 attorneys general across the country filed a notice of appeal in this case. The attorneys generals argue the Texas decision will put health care coverage and funding at risk for patients covered under the ACA and could significantly impact seniors and those with preexisting conditions or disabilities who are covered under the law.

Spotlight On:

01/17/2019 – NCSL recently hosted an "Our American States" podcast about reinsurance programs in states. Listen here.

Funding Announcements

01/2019 – The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has announced grant application opportunities for several programs including medication assisted treatment, suicide prevention, tribal youth suicide prevention and early detection and preventing underage drinking. More information can be found here

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.