Category Archives: Government

Verma defends cuts to navigators and halting risk adjustment payments

Virgil Dickson

About Virgil Dickson

Virgil Dickson reports for Modern Healthcare from Washington, D.C., on the federal regulatory agencies. Before joining Modern Healthcare in 2013, he was the Washington-based correspondent for PRWeek and an editor/reporter for FDA News.

Photo: Jeff Porter/AHCJSeema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, spoke at a briefing on public health emergencies at the CDC in December.

Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was on defense on Thursday during a meeting with reporters who pushed her to explain a series of controversial decisions made by her agency in recent weeks.

The agency has faced accusations of sabotage by health advocates after the agency’s decisions to end risk payments to insurance companies offering plans on the individual market and to dramatically cut funding for navigators who help consumers sign up for coverage.  Continue reading

AHCJ releases recording of today’s CMS announcement

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Photo: Jeff Porter/AHCJSeema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, speaks at a past briefing.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced initiatives today intended to improve oversight and the integrity of Medicaid.

CMS will implement “stronger audit functions, enhanced oversight of state contracts with private insurance companies, increased beneficiary eligibility oversight, and stricter enforcement of state compliance with federal rules,” according to a press release. Continue reading

Separated migrant children face infectious disease and other health threats

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Photo: Hi Tricia! via Flickr

The thousands of children separated from their undocumented parents at the border have been exposed to prolonged stress that can cause long-lasting injury to the developing brain, say many prominent professional medical associations. The policy of taking children from their parents while they await deportation hearings – reversed on Wednesday – may have increased their chances of getting infectious diseases, too.

Dr. Marc Siegel wrote in USA Today that “thousands of children now being housed in makeshift detention centers have been reported to suffer from large outbreaks of scabies, a highly contagious, itchy rash spread by tiny insects known as mites.” There also have been reports of outbreaks of lice, measles, flu, drug-resistant tuberculosis, dengue fever and Zika, Siegel added. Continue reading

HHS to hire strategist to work with local reporters

Sabriya Rice

About Sabriya Rice

Sabriya Rice (@sabriyarice) is the business of health care reporter for the Dallas Morning News. She’s an AHCJ board member and vice chair of the association’s Right to Know committee.

Judy Stecker

The new assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants to improve the agency’s outreach to regional reporters and plans to hire a liaison devoted to working with journalists outside the Beltway.

Judy Stecker, appointed to the role in April, mentioned the new emphasis on reaching regional reporters in a phone call last week with the chairs of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee. Continue reading

States continue to expand Medicaid, with others possibly voting on the issue

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Image: The Kaiser Family Foundation’s State Health Facts

There’s been a spurt of Medicaid expansion activity in several states. Thirty-three states plus the District of Columbia have approved expansion (including Maine – more on that below.)

Virginia is the most recent state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam ran last fall on a Medicaid pledge – and the balance of power in his state’s legislature shifted too, with the GOP still in control but now with narrow majorities in both chambers. Continue reading