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On Tuesday, May 8th, the House held three hearings related to combating the opioid epidemic. The first hearing came out of the Energy and Commerce (E&C) Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which examined opioid distribution and diversion by the pharmaceutical industry.
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This week, Congress is back in session with the House continuing its work on addressing the opioid crisis. There are three hearings and a markup on several pieces of legislation intended to address the ongoing epidemic.
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This week, the focus shifts back to the Congressional push around addressing the opioid epidemic after the President's speech on drug pricing was postponed. Both committees of jurisdiction in the House and Senate are moving on opioid legislation this week, so that has our immediate attention.
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FY2019 Massachusetts Budget Update: House Ways and Means Budget

April 18, 2018 | Alert | By Julie Cox, Steven Baddour, Daniel Connelly, Caitlin Beresin, Maxwell Fathy

On Wednesday, April 11, the House Ways and Means Committee proposed a $40.991 billion budget for FY2019 that represents an increase of $1.24 billion, or 3.1 percent, above FY2018 spending levels. The budget proposes $83 million more in spending than Governor Charlie Baker recommended in the FY2019 budget he filed in January.
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On Monday, CMS published a number of policies changing the dynamics of the individual market, including the Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2019 Final Rule, guidance on hardship exemptions, and a bulletin on transitional (grandmothered) plans. When interpreting all of these policies it’s important to keep in mind the following: What is success? And who is defining it?
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Congress will continue its work in addressing the opioid crisis this week with a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee. There were reports last week that Congress will also consider legislation around telemedicine, which is sure to capture stakeholders attention.
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In a previous blog, we reviewed pending and approved 1115 waivers in 8 states. We also highlighted the trends we see in 1115 waivers, such as changes to coverage requirements, a time limit on how long certain beneficiaries can receive Medicaid coverage, lock-outs if an individual fails to pay a premium or meet the work requirement, and drug testing requirements.
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This week, Congress returns from recess with its eyes set on addressing the opioid crisis. We expect to see some form of bipartisan legislation considered between now and Memorial Day. We will also see Congress dive into appropriations which will eat up plenty of time, not to mention nominations of Cabinet officials and appointments to the federal bench.
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Massachusetts Legislature Issues Net Neutrality Report, Recommends Legislation

April 9, 2018 | Alert | By Julie Cox, Maxwell Fathy

On March 23, 2018, the Special Senate Committee on Net Neutrality and Consumer Protection (the Committee) released a report recommending legislation aimed at ensuring net neutrality in Massachusetts.
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In March, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) released its biannual report to Congress. MACPAC is an independent congressional agency that advises Congress on issues relating to Medicaid. In its report, the Commission made a three part recommendation in regards to streamlining Medicaid managed care authorities.
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In March, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released its biannual report to Congress on matters affecting the Medicare program. MedPAC is an independent congressional agency that advises Congress on issues relating to Medicare.
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As of March 2018, there are twenty-four Medicaid 1115 waivers pending CMS approval.   Medicaid 1115 waivers, Research and Demonstration Projects, give states experimental, pilot, or demonstration projects likely to assist in promoting the objectives of Medicaid.
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Mintz and ML Strategies will host the 3rd Annual Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Industry Summit on May 8, 2018! This year's summit will take place in Boston and we are thrilled to announce that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will be the keynote speaker. 
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Congress has until Friday to finalize a government spending bill. Over the next couple of days it will decide whether to move forward with a number of consequential health care issues, market stabilization and drug pricing chief among them.
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This week, Congress returns to Washington with 11 days to finalize a government spending bill. Standing in the way are a number of unresolved health care issues, including drug pricing and market stabilization.
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Congress has three weeks to finalize an omnibus spending package. There are a number of issues that are expected to come up, including market stabilization and drug pricing, among other issues. There's also activity at the state level on Medicaid waivers and work requirements. We cover this and more in this week's preview.
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Congress is back in session and will begin its work in finalizing a final spending bill for fiscal year 2018. Both chambers are considering new ways to address the opioid crisis, and we should expect a renewed push around gun control and mental health.
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With the end of the 2017-2018 legislative cycle fast approaching, Beacon Hill’s agenda for the coming months has begun to take shape. All major policymaking will need to be concluded by the end of formal sessions on July 31, and lawmakers have a long to-do list they hope to complete before that date.
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This week, the President's FY 2019 budget will be released, and the Administration will spend the next couple of weeks touting its goals. How this activity is received in Congress will play out in various committee hearings, as will issues like drug pricing, which the Administration is closely examining.
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Today, the White House released its FY 2019 budget proposal, outlining its policy priorities for the fiscal year. In health care, the President's budget focuses on prescription drug pricing and opioid funding.
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