Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Trump officials approve Ohio Medicaid work requirements | Klobuchar calls ObamaCare ‘missed opportunity’ to lower drug costs
Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care.
The Trump administration is pushing ahead on approving Medicaid work requirements, and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharBiden campaign: Castro ‘got the facts wrong’ The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Houston debate Castro fundraises off of Biden attack following heated debate MORE (D-Minn.) said former President Obama missed an opportunity to tackle drug costs in the Affordable Care Act.
We’ll start with Ohio…
Trump administration approves Ohio Medicaid work requirements
Recent legal challenges do not seem to be slowing down the administration’s approval of Medicaid work requirements.
Ohio on Friday became the ninth state to receive approval to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. Maine’s Democratic governor rejected the requirement approved under her Republican predecessor, so there are only eight existing waivers.
Starting in 2021, Medicaid beneficiaries ages 19 through 49 in Ohio will need to work, attend school, volunteer or attend job training for at least 80 hours a month to remain in the health care program. Beneficiaries who do not meet the requirements for 60 days will lose their coverage.
Unlike other states, people who lose coverage in Ohio will be allowed to immediately apply for re-enrollment.
The timing: Yes, it was announced with little fanfare on a Friday afternoon. But the approval comes just one day after the administration defended the work requirements of two other states in federal court.
Coverage losses: Nobody denies that work requirements result in people being kicked off Medicaid. In Arkansas, which was the first and only state to implement the requirements, 18,000 people were removed from Medicaid last year; fewer than 2,000 have re-applied. An estimate conducted by Ohio also found that just over 18,000 people could lose coverage. But the administration argues that it’s not fair to say people “lost” coverage in Arkansas, since they could theoretically have gained coverage through an employer. But the problem is there’s no data to back that up.
Klobuchar: ObamaCare a ‘missed opportunity’ to address drug costs
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said she thinks the Obama administration missed a key opportunity to lower drug prices when it passed the Affordable Care Act.
In an interview with CNN that aired Friday, the 2020 presidential candidate criticized the influence of the pharmaceutical industry during ObamaCare negotiations.
“I would have liked to see this be part of the Affordable Care Act. But it wasn’t, in part, because they were working with the pharmaceutical companies on the premiums issue,” Klobuchar said. “They were working with them on getting support for the Affordable Care Act because they knew that pharma could stop that bill in its tracks.”
Klobuchar’s criticism that ObamaCare did not tackle drug costs is not a new one. Hospitals, doctors, insurers and even the medical device industry all took payment cuts as a way to pay for the law’s massive expansion of health coverage. The pharmaceutical industry however remained relatively unscathed, and nothing in the law allowed Congress or the White House to take action on lowering drug prices.
Klobuchar voted for the law anyway. So far in her campaign, she has positioned herself as a moderate champion of ObamaCare, rather than a progressive pushing Medicare for all.
Bipartisan concern: Tackling rising prescription drug prices is a bipartisan issue in Congress and on the campaign trail, as public polling suggests the issue is a top concern among voters. Democrats and Republicans broadly agree there’s a problem but are divided over the solutions.
Klobuchar is one of more than a dozen Democrats currently running for president and jockeying to show they can lead on drug pricing reforms.
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What we’re reading
Trump administration seeks to build global coalition against abortion rights (The Washington Post)
Tobacco and e-cigarette lobbyists circle as FDA chief exits (The New York Times)
CDC’s Redfield: It could take another year to control Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Stat)
State by state
Agency: 13,000 didn’t meet Arkansas’ Medicaid work requirement (Associated Press)
45,000 Texas students requested conscientious exemptions from vaccinations in 2018 (My San Antonio)
DHS secretary: Medicaid expansion key to improving health care reimbursement (Wisconsin Public Radio)