KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Former CBO Chief Says It Was ‘Common Understanding’ Subsidies Were For All States

The comments by Doug Elmendorf, who headed the Congressional Budget Office that scored the cost of the health law, go to the heart of the current case before the Supreme Court. In other news about federal funding, a discrepancy between cost estimates threatens a key drug bill, senators set up a funding caucus for NIH and the new head of CBO talks about plans for analyzing health spending.

The Hill: CBO Director: Obamacare Funds Were Assumed To Be For All States
The man who led the Congressional Budget Office when ObamaCare was being constructed said Tuesday it was the “common understanding” at the time that subsidies would be available in all states — a crucial question in a looming Supreme Court case. The challengers in the case of King v. Burwell argue subsidies are only available in states that established their own exchanges, as opposed to a federally-run exchange, citing language in the law referring to an exchange “established by the state.” (Sullivan, 5/19)

In other news from Capitol Hill -

Politico Pro: Funding Breach Is Key Issue For FDA With Cures Bill
The FDA and the House Energy and Commerce Committee have vastly different estimates of what the 21st Century Cures Act would cost the agency — a divide that, if not narrowed significantly, could impact the pace of drug and medical device reviews should the bill become law. ... The agency told Politico on Tuesday that it expects Cures to cost it nearly $900 million through 2020 — and that doesn’t include the cost of implementing the legislation’s proposed biomarkers program, which may be the biggest expense for the agency and add up to an additional $188 million each year. By contrast, Energy and Commerce has pegged the five-year cost of the bill at $115 million for FDA. (Karlin, 5/19)

The Hill: Senators Create New Caucus On NIH Funding
Two top senators are pairing up to bolster support for federal research — and to find a way to fund it. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will co-chair the Senate’s newest caucus, dedicated specifically to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). (Ferris, 5/19)

Modern Healthcare: CBO's New Scoring Policy Could Affect Federal Health Care Programs
The Congressional Budget Office is under new leadership, and the agency made it clear Tuesday that a different type of economic analysis will be used to study the effects of federal spending policies, particularly those in healthcare. Most analyses from the CBO use “static scoring,” which looks at the direct economic effects of a law without factoring in how the economy will react longer term. Conversely, “dynamic scoring” incorporates macroeconomic elements. The agency uses dynamic scoring for some, but not all, analyses. (Herman, 5/19)

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