Overnight Health Care: House GOP eyes entitlement reform, ObamaCare repeal in 2018 | Hospital groups dig in over discount drug program | Medicaid becomes GOP target

Overnight Health Care: House GOP eyes entitlement reform, ObamaCare repeal in 2018 | Hospital groups dig in over discount drug program | Medicaid becomes GOP target
© Greg Nash

House GOP whip: Entitlement reform, ObamaCare repeal on 2018 agenda

ObamaCare repeal and entitlement reform are at the top of the agenda for House Republicans in 2018, Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Tuesday.

"The next big thing you're going to see is a need for workers, and I think the next thing we can do is to go and reform those welfare programs that are trapping people in a failed welfare state," Scalise said on "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday morning.

"Let's actually put some work requirements in place so that we can get people back to work, rebuild the middle class."


House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has said recently that Republicans will focus on giving states "more flexibility in Medicaid," which could involve allowing them to impose work requirements on recipients.

Scalise also indicated House Republicans would turn back to ObamaCare repeal in 2018.

Senate Republican leaders, though, are throwing cold water on those goals.

Read more here.


Hospital groups dig in after cuts to discount drug program

Hospital groups are vowing to push forward in their fight against the Trump administration's changes to a federal drug discount program despite a setback last week.

The American Hospital Association (AHA), America's Essential Hospitals and the Association of American Medical Colleges last year sued to block a rule from going into effect that would result in $1.6 billion in cuts to hospitals participating in the 340B Medicare drug discount program.

A judge dismissed their suit as premature last week, saying the changes had not taken effect.

But the groups now say they will push forward with the suit after the cuts took effect.

Lobbyists and hospital groups are also pushing for Congress to reverse the rule through the government funding bill expected to pass in January or another must-pass bill.

"Making cuts to the program, like those [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] has put forward, will dramatically threaten access to health care for many communities with vulnerable patients," said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of AHA.

Read more here.


Medicaid is GOP target in 2018

Medicaid survived a serious congressional test last year, but changes at both the federal and state levels could make 2018 a crucial year.

Republicans in Congress failed in their attempts earlier this year to impose drastic cuts to the program as part of ObamaCare repeal, but GOP lawmakers could try again next year.

The tax bill that President Trump signed into law is projected to add $1 trillion to the federal deficit, making cuts to Medicaid an even more tempting target for some conservatives.

"Medicaid is front and center in any budget exercises, and now that deficits have increased, it puts Medicaid squarely in the bull's-eye," said Joan Alker, the executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Soaring deficits could put Trump in a corner if there's a recession Paul Ryan moving family to Washington MORE (R-Wis.) has said he wants to bring down entitlement spending, saying in December that "health-care entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid are the big drivers of debt."

But any entitlement cuts from Ryan will likely face pushback from members of his own party, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic field narrows with Inslee exit McConnell rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster MORE (R-Ky.).

Medicaid covers nearly 75 million people, and the program has proven resilient in the face of conservative opposition.

Read more here.


GOP set to shift tactics on ObamaCare in 2018

The politics surrounding ObamaCare will shift in 2018, with opponents and supporters of the health-care law expected to change tactics.

With the GOP push to repeal ObamaCare possibly dead on arrival next year, conservative health-care experts say the White House and Republican Congress should focus instead on containing what they see as the law's damage.

"It might be time for Republicans to recalibrate, to think more in terms of containment, which is containing itself in terms of its future growth and spread, rather than some type of radical rollback," said Tom Miller, a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank.

Supporters of the law, in contrast, feel as if the Affordable Care Act has largely survived its first year in the face of a united GOP government committed to destroying it. They're hoping for a good election year that could bolster the health-care law's defenses going into 2019.

Read more here.


Clinton: Short-term CHIP extension 'doesn't cut it'

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces DHS cyber agency to prioritize election security, Chinese threats ABC chose a debate moderator who hates Trump MORE on Tuesday called on Senate Republicans to bring a full extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program to the floor for a vote.

"This alleged extension until March doesn't cut it as states freeze enrollment & send out letters warning that coverage will end," the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee tweeted.

Funding for CHIP expired at the end of September, and Congress has been locked in a partisan stalemate over how to pay for its renewal. Both parties support the program, but they have been unable to agree on how to offset its cost.

Just prior to Christmas, Congress passed a short-term spending bill that extended CHIP through March 31, but states are likely to run out of money before then.

Read more here


What we're reading

GOP Obamacare quandary -- easy to hate, hard to kill (Politico)

Republicans face a fresh fight over Obamacare: Repeal it or repair it?  (USA Today)

Pharma, under attack for drug prices, started an industry war (Washington Post)


State by state

Why Virginia Medicaid expansion could hinge on a drawing by lot (WVTF)

With eyes on Medicaid, N.H. legislative leaders seek common ground (NHPR)


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