State Roundup: HHS Secretary's Ability To Waive Medicaid Requirements

Kansas Health Institute News: CRS report: HHS Secretary Has Latitude To Waive State MOE Requirements
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has broad legal authority to waive Medicaid maintenance-of-effort requirements, according to a memo from the Congressional Research Service to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a Republican, is among the many governors complaining about the cost of the so-called MOE requirements that were included in the federal health reform law when it was passed a year ago this week. The law requires each state to maintain Medicaid eligibility standards that are equal to or more inclusive than were in effect the date the Affordable Care Act became law, March 23, 2010 (Shields, 3/21).

The Associated Press: Republicans Seek Fed Review Of Md. Hospital Tax
Senate Republicans want a federal investigation into whether a proposed tax on Maryland hospitals violates an agreement between the state and the federal government that limits how much patients pay for care (3/22).

Kansas Health Institute News: Senate Approves Provider Tax For Community DD Programs
The Kansas Senate passed a bill Monday that would tax community-based programs for people with developmental disabilities. Revenues from the so-called provider tax would then be used to leverage additional federal Medicaid dollars for the programs, similar to existing provider taxes for hospitals and nursing homes. ... According to a Kansas Division of Budget analysis, the tax would raise almost $20 million a year from the centers, generating an additional $27 million in federal funding (Ranney, 3/21).

The Connecticut Mirror: Hospitals And Insurers United Against Anthem On Contract Provision
Doctors and hospital officials are hoping state lawmakers will ban a contracting provision that insurance companies use to get the lowest prices for medical services. Some of the state's insurers hope so too. The provision, known as a most favored nation clause, requires a hospital or health care provider to give the insurance company the lowest rates it offers. If a hospital with a most favored nation clause in its contract with one insurer negotiates lower rates with another insurance company, the hospital could be required to give the first company the lower rates too. Health care providers say the clauses are unfair and discourage innovation (Levin Becker, 3/21).

The Boston Globe: Patients Take On Expanded Role
Patient activists are stepping up their role in health care and drug development, funding research, helping companies set priorities, and banding together over the Internet to share their experiences with everything from doctors to therapeutics. The emerging "participatory medicine" trend, which will have a profound impact on health care providers and the biomedical industry, was a focus of yesterday's opening sessions at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council's annual meeting (Weisman, 3/22).

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