This is the first of three weeks when the Senate is in session while the House is out on its five-week summer recess. It is highly unusual for one chamber to be here with the other is on recess for that long. Our expectations are low for significant health care action during this odd stretch. The Senate could move the ball on opioids, but signs of that happening remain limited. So what should we expect from the Senate during this three-week period?

There could be plenty of nominations considered which has been a top priority of Republican leadership this year. But if the Democrats force Republicans to spend hours and hours of time talking about judges, their vulnerable members can go home and campaign. It is possible that the Senate could consider an appropriations bill with numerous amendment votes as a way to force all Senators to stay here and enjoy August in Washington, DC.

We continue to watch the Administration as it slowly churns out regulations which have consequences for stakeholders all across the spectrum. We continue to watch the OIRA Dashboard for regulations moving forward. It looks like Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance (STLDI) plans are imminent. When Congress returns in full in September, the highest priority not named Brett Kavanaugh will be keeping the government open past the September 30 deadline. 

WAIVERS IN THE NEWS 

Late last week, CMS approved Wisconsin’s section 1332 waiver to implement a reinsurance program for years 2019 through 2023. The program, known as the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan, will be funded in part through pass-through funding from the government, leaving the state to pay at least $34 million of the $200 million cost for 2019. The program will cover 50 percent of claims from $50,000 to $250,000, up to the $200 million cost of the program. 

However, the funding mechanism will have implications for how much Wisconsin pays, and could have broader implications for other states pursuing similar programs. 

Alaska, Minnesota, and Oregon have reinsurance programs established, and Maine, Maryland, and New Jersey having pending applications before CMS. Given the uncertainty at the federal level, more states could pursue similar models. 

THIS WEEK IN THE HOUSE

The House is in recess until September 5, 2018. 

THIS WEEK IN THE SENATE

On Tuesday (7/31), the Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Reducing Health Care Costs: Decreasing Administrative Spending.” Click here for more information.