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ML Strategies Health Care Preview WEEK OF JANUARY 14, 2019

It’s now the 24th day of the partial government shutdown and we have yet to see signs of a breakthrough. There doesn’t seem to be much of any negotiating happening at the moment either. Will this be the week where stories of unpaid TSA officers and FDA food inspectors drive the parties to end the shutdown? We shall see.

The business of government – while centered on this partial shutdown – will begin to pick up as February comes into view. House member committee assignments are being finalized with the first hearings scheduled in the next two weeks.

There was news late last week that the Administration is also looking to push its regulatory agenda by exploring ways to reform the Medicaid program. The plan, while still under development, would allow states to consider using block grants for the Medicaid program. The Administration has not said anything publicly about the scope of the proposed reforms, but the news of such deliberations are sure to lead to intense scrutiny from House Democrats.

Drug Pricing: Noise v Action.

Health care stakeholders know that drug prices will be a hot topic this Congress with House Democrats expected to focus in on a number of transparency issues. Last week, House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings announced that the initial Oversight and Reform Committee hearing of the 116th Congress would examine prescription drug prices. And today he sent letters to 12 drug companies seeking information on pricing practices as part of an investigation into pharmaceutical costs. Additionally, Senator Grassley, Chairman of the Finance Committee, indicated that the committee will look at Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) transparency, specifically Ranking Member Wyden’s legislation, the Creating Transparency to Have Drug Rebates Unlocked Act.

For health care stakeholders, the challenge is discerning noise from action. We watch for Congress to take actions that will create change. There will typically be a lot of noise (hearings, reports, etc.) preceding Congressional action. But noise doesn’t guarantee action. Just because Congress is talking about a subject doesn’t mean policy change is imminent. With drug prices, a highly charged political issue, we need to carefully look for signs that bipartisan action to create real policy change could happen.

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About this Author

Manager of Government Relations

Prior to joining ML Strategies, Eli was a legislative correspondent for US Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), where his experience included health care, education, child welfare, social security, food assistance, and poverty issues specifically as they relate to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Social Security. Previously, Eli served as a legislative intern with Senator Heinrich. He also served as a legislative intern with Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), where he worked on issues related to education, health, and commerce. Eli has also served as an intern at a political...

Katie Weider, Mintz Levin Law Firm, New York, Health Care Policy Director
Director of Health Policy

Katie provides advice and guidance on issues relating to Medicaid, Medicare, and the Marketplace.

Prior to joining ML Strategies, Katie was a senior analyst with the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), a nonpartisan agency that provides Congress, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and states with analysis and recommendations on issues affecting Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). There Katie researched, developed, and prepared Medicaid policy recommendations; conducted legislative, data, and policy analyses related to a host of Medicaid and Medicare issues; and provided policy analyses and technical assistance for Congressional staff on draft bills and policy questions, among many other duties.


In her work at ML Strategies Katie helps navigate complex legislative, regulatory, and executive actions relating to Medicaid, Medicare, and the Marketplace. She helps clients determine the effects of state and federal action on client business models and helps clients develop comprehensive strategies. 


While earning her master’s degree in public health, Katie worked at the George Washington University leading the evaluation of HRSA’s Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education program and also worked in the office of Senator Charles Grassley.

Rodney L. Whitlock, Mintz Levin, ML Startegies, Health Policy Advisor, Washington DC
ML Strategies - Vice President

Rodney is a veteran health care policy professional with more than 20 years of experience working with the US Congress, where he served as health policy advisor and as Acting Health Policy Director for Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and, earlier, on the staff of former US Representative Charlie Norwood of Georgia.

During his years with Representative Norwood, Rodney managed the Patients’ Bill of Rights, which passed the House in 1999 and 2001. In February 2005, Rodney left the office of Congressman Norwood to join the Finance...