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ML Strategies Health Care Preview Week of June 11th

Welcome back. This week, the Senate Finance Committee will mark up an opioid package. The final text will be important for gauging how close the Senate is to the House package. The House will begin voting on dozens of proposals over the next two weeks, putting them on pace to finish their work by the July 4th recess. However, the Senate appears to be a little behind the House’s timeline. We will also begin to look for signals on other pieces of legislation that could be tied to opioids.

Additionally this week, the HELP Committee will hold a hearing reviewing the Administration’s effort to lower drug prices with Secretary Azar. The hearing is important to see what issues have traction before key players on the Committee and what, if any, signals the Secretary provides on next steps from the Administration. We also watch to see how Democrats question Azar on his ability to bring down drug prices. This hearing will provide insight to how the Democrats plan to message their ability to address drug pricing and why their solutions would be better than anything from Azar and the Administration.

Also on the drug pricing front, the Senate Judiciary Committee will review two pieces of legislation which will certainly catch stakeholder interest. The Preventing Drug Diversion Act of 2018 would take steps to improve systems for identifying diversion of controlled substances and the CREATES Act would take a number of steps to promote competition and lower costs. These are important to consider in the context of other moving vehicles in the June and July work periods.

ACA Back in the News

Last week, the Trump Administration said it would not defend the constitutionality of the ACA in a filing submitted in a Texas federal court. The suit, which was initially filed in February, alleges that since the individual mandate will no longer be constitutional in 2019 that consumer insurance protections, such as guaranteed issue and community rating provisions, will no longer be valid.

While the Texas court could agree with the Justice Department, this is an early fight in this battle which could make its way to the Supreme Court. A number of states intend to fight the suit which will hear its first arguments later this year. While this is a slow moving development, it is certainly one worth watching for its potential impact on the Marketplace. We continue to wait to see the finalized short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI) and association health plan (AHP) rule. We could be seeing these in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for that.

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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...