Unity was a central them at this year's Health Action 2018 conference  last week where we joined health policy and advocacy "elites" from around the country. Attendees heard Senators Cory Booker (NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) who thanked us for the outstanding work that brought together advocates nationwide to beat back three bills to "repeal" the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, they, and health policy experts warned of the treacherous path ahead and the need to remain ever vigilant. Underscoring the discussions was an emphasis on the need to remain unified - no matter the population we serve, or the specific issue we serve, we must work together to ensure the power of our advocacy. In that way we can continue to move the needle on equal access to coverage and care. We also join in applauding the work of those, like Jesse O'Brien of Oregon, who won one of this year's coveted Advocate of the Year Awards. Find more about the conference on their Facebook page.

Current Issues and News of the Week
  • Consumer Health First Legislation - SB174/HB134 Health Benefit Plan Rate Review Process: On Wednesday, January 31, this bill, sponsored by Senator Thomas "Mac" Middleton and Delegate Ariana Kelly, will be heard respectively in the Senate Finance and House Health and Government Operations Committees. CHF will be testifying in full support of this bill. Read our full testimony here. We will post information here on our full 2018 legislative agenda as bills are dropped. 
  • Medicaid Work Requirements and Kentucky's 1115 Waiver: Just days after CMS approved a waiver for Kentucky that would do irreparable harm to its residents, the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), Southern Poverty Law Center and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of 15 Medicaid beneficiaries. By the state's own admission, more than 100,000 Kentuckians would lose their coverage through this waiver. Learn more about the lawsuit here and its chances for success here. And, let's not forget, that this is just the first of what may be a number of similar waivers. You can track the waiver approval process and get more information at Families USA and the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities.
  • 1332 (Innovation Program) Waivers: The repeal of the individual mandate and the loss of the cost sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies, will make it easier for states to obtain 1332 Waivers in 2019, reports an article in Health Affairs. Budget neutrality is a key component of these waivers, but with these 2 changes, net federal costs under the ACA will increase; thus they increase the amount of pass-through funds available to states to implement these waivers. Expect to see more.
  • HHS - Conscience and Religious Freedom Division: The Department's latest move to impose conscience objections has real life consequences.  Read what happened to a transgender individual "When Their Doctor Disappeared."
  • Poll - The Public's Priorities and the Next Steps for the Affordable Care Act: Kaiser Family Foundation released its January 2018 tracking poll.  That shows that health care is a top issue for voters in the mid-term elections at 29%. The economy and jobs come in at 27%. We believe that the poll's other findings demonstrate the importance of informing the public about the true value of the nation's essential health programs, like Medicaid. CHF will have exciting news about our work in this area in February - stay tuned!  
Mark Your Calendars...

Interested in attending a bill hearing in Annapolis? Bill hearings are open to the public, and support or opposition to legislation makes a difference! Find the complete schedule here. Updated frequently. All hearings are recorded and journaled, so even if you can't make it to Annapolis, you can track what's going on by listening to the hearings. A short tutorial on how to access these recordings can be found here. To listen live, go to the Committee Proceedings box on the lower right hand side of this page, and click on the hearing you wish to join.
Other upcoming meetings of interest:
  • Monday, Feb. 26 - Maryland Medicaid Advisory Committee, 1:00 - 3:00 PM. Miller Senate Office Building, Education, Health and Environmental Affairs, 11 Bladen St., 4th floor, Annapolis.

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