HHS Announces $67 Million in Grants for Navigators

HHS announced its 2015 funding opportunity to support Navigators in states with Federally-facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces, expanding the project period from one to three years to create better stability and consistency for grantees. HHS is providing up to $67 million in the first year of the award. The opportunity is open to both existing HHS Navigator grant applicants and new individuals and entities. Applications are due by June 15, with grants slated for award on September 2.

Secretary Burwell Denies Request for Pregnancy Special Enrollment Period

In response to a letter sent by 36 Senators and the ranking member from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Secretary Burwell stated that HHS will not provide a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) in the Federally-facilitated Marketplace to women who become pregnant. Currently, in Federal and State-Based Marketplaces, while the birth of a child provides mother and baby with a special enrollment period, a woman becoming pregnant does not. State-based Marketplaces have flexibility to define and establish SEPs, though none has done so for pregnancy to date. CMS declined to establish a pregnancy SEP in the Federally-facilitated Marketplace in regulations released on February 27, 2015, but reiterated the HHS Secretary’s flexibility to do so. The Secretary's letter, however, indicates that HHS does not have the legal authority to establish pregnancy as an exceptional circumstance SEP.

Vikki Wachino Named Top Medicaid Official at CMS

CMS announced Vikki Wachino as the new Ddirector of CMS' Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS), replacing Cindy Mann, who stepped down in January and has since joined Manatt. Wachino moves to the position from her role as the Acting Director. Previously, Wachino was the Director of the Children and Adult Health Programs Group, where she oversaw implementation of various Medicaid related Affordable Care Act provisions.

IRS Commissioner Says Agency Has No Contingency Plan for King v. Burwell

In one of many recent Congressional hearings in which members of Congress have pushed Obama administration leaders on contingency plans for King v. Burwell, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee that the IRS will respond to a Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell only when it is rendered. Koskinen reiterated that the agency is not preparing for a decision it cannot predict and that the role of the IRS is to implement the policy developed by the Treasury Department, White House, Department of Health and Human Services, and Congress.