President Donald Trump released his first full budget proposal this week, with many recommended cuts and some major changes to health programs. But Congress has already agreed on most spending levels for next year, so this budget is even more likely to be ignored than a typical presidential budget plan.
Meanwhile, states are trying to cope with last year’s changes to the Affordable Care Act in very different ways. Several states, mostly led by Democrats, are considering whether to set penalties for people who don’t have insurance — a provision of the ACA that Congress repealed in December. Idaho, meanwhile, is offering to let insurers sell plans that don’t cover the ACA’s required set of benefits and discriminate against people with preexisting health conditions.
Plus, Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, talks about getting generic drugs to market faster and how the agency is working with Congress on ways to help patients with terminal illnesses get easier access to experimental treatments.
This week’s panelists for KHN’s “What the Health?” are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal, Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post and Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times.
Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:
- Even though few of the proposals in Trump’s budget are likely to be enacted, it does lay down some important markers for the administration. Those include backing sweeping changes to Medicaid and eliminating many of the ACA’s coverage requirements.
- Blue states considering stepping into the void left by Congress’ repeal of the individual insurance mandate penalties have limited time to act. Insurers start making decisions about whether to participate in the individual market in the spring.
- The FDA’s Gottlieb tells Rovner and KHN’s Sarah Jane Tribble he expects there will be a compromise on Capitol Hill on “right-to-try” legislation that would make it easier for patients with terminal illnesses to gain access to experimental therapies.
- Idaho is moving forward on its plan to allow insurers to offer policies that do not comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. On Capitol Hill this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar would not say whether the federal government will step up to stop them.
Plus, for “extra credit,” in honor of Valentine’s Day, the panelists offer their favorite “Health Policy Valentines” for 2018. You can see more by searching the hashtag #healthpolicyvalentines on Twitter.
Paige Winfield Cunningham:
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