Alex Azar on track to become next HHS Secretary

Following yesterday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing, it appears Alex Azar, the former head of Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly’s U.S. operation, is on track to be confirmed as the Head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). If confirmed, Azar will replace Thomas Price M.D., a former congressman who served as the HHS secretary for seven months before resigning. 

Despite a probe by Democrats, including that from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), on his drug industry ties, Republicans have focused on the fact that Azar would come to the job with greater working knowledge of the sprawling agency, with its budget of more than $1.1 trillion and far-flung staff of nearly 80,000, than many of his predecessors, according to the Washington Post 

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CMS signals support for Medicaid work requirements

Earlier this month, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Seema Verma, made an announcement conveying that CMS would approve waiver applications from states that would require Medicaid enrollees to participate in “community engagement” activities, otherwise known as work requirements. This follows a letter co-authored by Verma that encouraged state Medicaid directors to use these waivers to modify their Medicaid programs to empower consumers. To advocates, work requirements are a way to empower Medicaid enrollees by encouraging them to be independent, self-sufficient consumers of healthcare.

Here’s what you should know about the proposed work requirements for Medicaid:

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Repealing individual mandate: not as bad as once feared?

Background

On Wednesday, December 13th, leaders from both the House and Senate will meet in Washington to finalize the Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill. If they decide to include removing the individual mandate, this will undoubtedly have an impact on healthcare in America – but it may be not as extreme as originally thought.

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