Lawmakers Request Information on Medicaid Expansion Integrity

Republican lawmakers have written to Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Andy Slavitt requesting details about steps the agency has taken to ensure the integrity of federal spending on Medicaid expansion. “With millions of Americans enrolled in the program, inconsistencies in CMS’s approach to expansion populations and expenditures can shift billions of dollars to states and taxpayers…it is crucial that CMS ensure lawmakers both in Congress and state capitals have a clear understanding from CMS regarding its role in overseeing the program,” the lawmakers write. They site audit work from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found fictitious applicants were able to successfully enroll in the program. They question how CMS plans to work with states to address the upcoming transition to a reduced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for Medicaid expansion enrollees. They also ask for more details about per capita spending for individuals enrolled in Medicaid expansion, as well as how the Medicaid expansion population interacts with other federal programs. The letter also requests more information on any research the agency is conducting regarding Medicaid expansion and its effect on private coverage. The letter was sent by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.). They request a response from CMS by January 19.

Senate Democrat Committee Membership Announced

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has announced Senate Democratic committee memberships for the 115th Congress. The decisions have already been ratified by the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, and are subject to ratification by the full Democratic caucus when the 115th Congress convenes this week.

Ebola Vaccine Shows Promising Results

A vaccine to protect against the Ebola virus has shown compelling results indicating that it is highly protective against the virus. The data comes from a major trial in Guinea, which found no recorded Ebola cases among the nearly 6,000 people who received the vaccine. The vaccine could be licensed in the coming year.

Senate Aging Committee Releases Report on Drug Prices

The Senate Aging Committee has made available a new report detailing the pricing practices of oft-criticized drug makers Valeant and Turing. Sudden Price Spikes in Off-Patent Prescription Drugs: The Monopoly Business Model that Harms Patients, Taxpayers, and the U.S. Health Care System summarizes the findings from the committee’s hearings and yearlong investigation into the rising costs of pharmaceuticals. The Committee also provides policy solutions and offers strategies to increase generic competition and strengthen the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) ability to monitor the market. The report suggests, in some cases, allowing for the re-importation of drugs which have lost their patent and whose prices have gone up.

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