Good morning ... Congratulations to the federal government, soon to be the proud new owner of "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli's one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album.
Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images
The New York Times has a fascinating on-the-ground account of the search for a resolution in the sprawling litigation over the opioid epidemic. The case, being tried in Cleveland, is similar to the Big Tobacco lawsuits of the '90s, pulling together a host of state and local governments as plaintiffs.
The man in the middle is Judge Dan Aaron Polster. The NYT trailed him for a day as he juggled volunteer work, a teaching gig and some of the most consequential multi-district litigation in years.
Key quote: The NYT overheard some lawyers complaining that Polster is a “grandstander” and “in over his head,” and asked the judge to respond to those grumblings.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services yesterday approved Arkansas’ request to add work requirements to its Medicaid program.
Why it matters:
Yes, but: These changes are being approved through a waiver process that was designed to test out new ideas for improving the Medicaid program. And CMS is supposed to analyze pretty rigorously the waiver projects it approves.
The bottom line: Work requirements, at a minimum, are going to keep happening. And this isn’t the first time an administration has used the waiver process to make policy. CMS’ use of that process here will attract extra scrutiny as part of the lawsuits over these changes.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of how hard it is for people to find out the actual cost of medical procedures at hospitals. But it packs more of a punch when it’s coming from the HHS secretary — and especially when he’s telling his story to an audience of hospital executives.
Here’s the story Azar told yesterday during his speech to the Federation of American Hospitals:
The bottom line: “I believe you ought to have the right to know what a health care service will cost — and what it will really cost — before you get that service … We’ll work with you to make it happen — and lay out more powerful incentives if it doesn’t," Azar said.
Go deeper: Read the full speech here.
The Trump administration and House Republicans reached a settlement agreement last December in their very awkward lawsuit over the ACA’s cost-sharing payments. But a federal appeals court said yesterday that it’s not necessarily ready to accept that deal.
Refresher: House Republicans sued the Obama administration for making the law’s cost-sharing reduction payments, known as CSRs, without an appropriation from Congress. They won.
The latest: The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday asked both sides to submit new briefs explaining what “exceptional circumstances” would justify vacating part of the initial ruling. If the appeals court doesn’t ultimately agree to that step, this litigation could live on, at least technically, for a long time.
Between the lines: There’s one relatively easy way out of this — Congress could fund the CSR payments.
'Tis the season when health care companies file annual documents that detail their executives' pay. Four large health care companies have submitted their filings so far, per my colleague Bob Herman, and here’s what each CEO is making based on the actual realized gains of their stock:
A new wrinkle: This year’s filings have a new element, mandated by SEC rules — the CEO pay ratio. Companies essentially have to explain how much their CEOs earn compared to the average worker at that company. Here are those numbers:
What we’re watching today: Brookings event on the future of the individual market.
Seema Verma and Jared Kushner will be making an appearance at the HIMSS health IT conference in Las Vegas to unveil a new initiative on patients’ health data.
What we’re watching this week: America’s Health Insurance Plans policy conference Wednesday and Thursday (agenda).
Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee hearing Thursday on the response to this especially bad flu season. Senior officials from the NIH, the FDA and the CDC will testify.
Senate health committee hearing Thursday on states’ solutions to the opioid crisis.
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