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Coffee CAHC policy round-up: June 14, 2017

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Coffee CAHC is a twice-weekly newsletter where we round up and comment on the latest health coverage policy developments both nationally and here in Maine. We hope you find these updates helpful!

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Coffee CAHC

115th Congress, 1st session

128th Maine Legislature, 1st session

 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

 

IT’S SO HOT UGH IS IT WINTER YET.

Ha! Just kidding. I’ll take the heat, sun, and long days, thanks very much. But I’m sure more than a few of you melted over the past few days. Mainahs got ice in our blood, I think.

 

National level

Well, it’s hard to give you details on a secret bill that leadership in the Senate GOP is so desperate to keep under lock and key that yesterday they briefly banned reporters from talking to senators about it.

As far as the process, the latest is that they are “getting close”, but still no agreement. While they have been sending bits and pieces of the bill over to CBO for preliminary analysis, I’ve heard that CBO thinks it will take about two weeks for them to score the bill before Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can complete his plan of holding zero hearings, getting zero public input, and ram the secret bill through as quickly as possible before anybody gets a chance to see what’s in it.

Today is a national call-in day, so if you haven’t already called your U.S. Senators to let them know how crummy it is to mess with 1/6 of the U.S. economy in secret, and how crummy it is to even consider voting for a secret plan that will throw tens of millions of people off of their health care, cost more for almost everybody else, and radically overhaul Medicaid, now’s the time.

 

State level

The state budget reached a bizarre new stage over the past two days, where the House and Senate held votes on competing versions of the budget in order to get a “Committee of Conference”, which is a special, limited committee established in rare circumstances to help iron out differences between two versions of a bill.

How rare? I’m happy to find out, but I cannot remember one from any of the years that I’ve been watching the legislature – and certainly, certainly not for the budget.

I’ve said before that I’m getting out of the game of making political/policy predictions, but I’m gonna make one now: it is very, very difficult to see how we avoid at least a one or two day shutdown at this point. The clock isn’t just ticking, it’s spinning. My understanding is that if the budget isn’t locked by the end of the day this Friday, then the timing (assuming the governor takes the full 10 days he is allowed, which he will, to veto the budget, which he will) means a shutdown becomes unavoidable. Again, perfectly happy to be corrected on this, but that’s my understanding. I just have a really hard time seeing what changes in the next 48 hours from the past five months of negotiations.

So, stay tuned. Could be getting extremely interesting here in the next few days or weeks.

 

Would you like to know more?

Families USA has done some analysis on how bad things will get for states if Congress turns Medicaid financing into a per capita caps system.

I’m a big fan of this piece on Health Affairs blog that looks at all of the various sectors and actors that have a piece of the prescription drug price pie. It has an incredibly helpful breakdown of the supply chain – that is, how a pill actually makes it from a manufacturer to a consumer – and how much each step of that supply chain ends up adding to the final cost consumers pay. Very handy, fascinating stuff.

 

Until next time, friends, I remain,

-Steve

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