March 22, 2019

March 22, 2019

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March 21, 2019

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March 20, 2019

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ML Strategies Health Care Preview Week of March 12th

This week, Congress returns to Washington with 11 days to finalize a government spending bill. House appropriators will be meeting throughout the week to finalize their respective packages which means we should expect to see signs of progress by weeks end. However, questions regarding several key health care issues – drug pricing and market stabilization – continue to linger over the debate.

PhRMA is actively engaged in a full court press to modify the donut hole provision included in the February budget deal. While Democrats seem open to this, it’s only on the condition that other provisions are substituted to help lower costs. The CREATES Act is on the table as a potential pay-for despite heavy lobbying against the bill from PhRMA in the past. This week is a real test of PhRMA’s ability to get what they want and stop what they don’t.

Time is up on market stabilization. In or out? Both parties will need time to decide if the ‘juice is worth the squeeze.’ All stakeholders know that any possibility of a stabilization package after March 23rd is a long shot. Like picking Wright State to win the NCAA tournament long shot. While the framework of a deal is being discussed, getting all parties on board, namely the White House, is a key hurdle.

Elections have Consequences 

President Trump went on full court press over the weekend in hopes of securing another special election victory tomorrow (March 13th) in a district surrounding Pittsburgh. If the Democrats take the seat, it would be the first time since 2003 that it was held by a Democrat. Implications for both sides in where they draw policy lines in the sand could be significant.

State Waivers Update

Last week, CMS put the State of Idaho on notice for moving to sell non ACAcompliant health plans. However, CMS signaled the door is wide open for Idaho to push short-term limited duration health plans (STLDI). The Trump Administration has been promoting STLDI plans since the proposed rule was announced last month as an alternative to other individual market plans. The reality is the Administration is making clear they expect these plans to be available very soon. Meanwhile, the Governor of Idaho did not exactly back down following the CMS letter setting up the potential for a legal battle.

Additionally, states continue to pursue Medicaid waivers, pursuing reforms such as work requirements and premiums despite concerns from the Government Accountability Office on oversight and evaluations. As these waivers begin to take shape, outcomes and spending will carry significant weight in the context of future state-based innovations.

Important to follow as Congress slips into election-mode but the Administration’s wheels keep turning.

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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...