March 17, 2017 Edition

New CHEAC Staff

CHEAC has a new Policy Analyst, Jack Anderson, who will be starting on Tuesday, March 21. Jack has previously worked as a Project and Policy Coordinator with the University of California, San Francisco and as a Research Assistant and Analyst at the Creighton University Center for Health Services. Jack also interned with the Centers for Disease Control, where he provided policy analysis, tracked and monitored legislative proposals and convened partners on various policy matters. Jack joins CHEAC with a strong interest in public health and health policy.

Jack’s email address is janderson@cheac.org. Please join us in welcoming Jack to the CHEAC team!


House Republican ‘American Health Care Act’ Moves Ahead

Yesterday, the House Budget Committee advanced the House Republicans’ American Health Care Act (AHCA), with a vote of 19 to 17, with Democrats and three Republicans voting ‘no’.

The AHCA advanced despite the release of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score this past Monday, which estimates 14 million people would become uninsured in 2018, increasing to 21 million in 2020 and 24 million in 2026. The increases in the number of uninsured individuals are attributed repeal of the individual mandate in 2018 and further exacerbated by the capping per-enrollee spending and the loss of enhanced federal dollars for the expansion population.

The Trump Administration quickly sought to discredit the CBO score; Secretary Price’s statement can be found here. Meanwhile, House Republican supporters of the AHCA touted aspects of the CBO report, including estimates that the federal deficit would decrease by $337 billion, average premiums would decrease by 10 percent and federal Medicaid expenditures would decrease by $880 billion. However, while federal spending would decrease, the burden would likely be shifted to state and local governments. Also, while average premiums may decrease, the CBO predicted premiums would increase significantly for older Americans under the AHCA, which allows insurers to charge older enrollees five times more than younger enrollees.

The bill continues to face criticism from conservative Republicans, however for the bill to pass the House floor, only 21 Republicans can vote against the bill.

NACCHO Letter

NACCHO drafted and is circulating a letter for statewide organizations and local organizations to sign on, focused on support for the Prevention and Public Health Fund and Medicaid funding. CHEAC will be signing onto the letter, which can be viewed here. Local health departments are also welcome to sign on. To do so, please use the following link. The deadline is March 31, 2017.


Price and Verma Letter to Governors

This week, Seema Verma was sworn into office as the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Verma and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price cosigned a letter to state Governors intended to affirm their partnership in improving Medicaid and those served by the program.

However, the letter perhaps signals key areas Verma and Price will be looking to redesign under the Medicaid program, including expanded eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, which they characterize as disincentivizing care to those previously eligible. Additionally, the letter encourages innovative approaches to employment, possibly hinting toward work requirements.

To view the press release, use the following link.


Legislative Update – Policy Committees Underway

Policy Committees have started up in earnest in each house this week and will begin to pick up the pace in the weeks to come. As bills of particular interest are heard in committee, updates will be provided. CHEAC also provides updates in our legislative bill chart, which, can be found here.

Also, the CHEAC website features a new bill search tool that allows you to look up any bill currently under consideration in the Legislature.  When using the tool, please be sure to specify

‘AB’ or ‘SB’ as applicable, in front of the bill number. The resulting screen will provide the bills’ current status, a brief summary, and if tracked by CHEAC, our current position.  This search tool can be found on the right side of our legislative advocacy page: http://cheac.org/advocacy/legislative-advocacy/.


Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 Challenges the Administration’s use of Proposition 56 Revenues

On Monday, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services, challenged the Administration’s use of revenues from Proposition 56 (Tobacco Tax) to cover growth in Medi-Cal costs. Members of the Subcommittee inquired about the Department of Finance and the Department of Health Care Services’ plans to meet the growth in Medi-Cal costs prior to the passage of Proposition 56 this past November. The Administration noted their interpretation of not supplanting funds, noting FY 2016-17 as the base year and that the growth in Medi-Cal costs are above the level of costs experienced in FY 2016-17, thereby allowing Proposition 56 revenues to be used to meet these costs.

Several organizations have expressed concerns with the Administration using these revenues to meet current Medi-Cal obligations, versus increasing provider rates.

Monday’s agenda can be viewed here.

No actions were taken by the Subcommittee; all items were held open.