President Donald Trump gave his annual State of the Union address on Feb. 4, calling on Congress to take on sky-high prescription drug prices.

Healthcare was top of mind among Iowa caucus-goers as the start of the 2020 election kicked off in the state on Feb. 3. About 60% of Democrats at the Iowa caucuses said they support eliminating private health insurance and moving to a single-payer healthcare system.

Medicaid block grants, which have been framed as an “opportunity” for states to better control their Medicaid spending and gain flexibility, have been harshly criticized by healthcare groups.

The Trump administration has released its Medicaid block grant program under a new name that allows states to designate funding and put a cap on Medicaid spending. The program, dubbed Healthy Adults Opportunity, is an optional intervention initiative that fundamentally changes the way part of Medicaid is funded.

CMS is undergoing a revamp of its Compare websites, which allow patients and users to compare healthcare providers based on quality measures. The agency recently updated its Hospital Compare website with new measurement data and the Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings.


CMS will now cover Next Generation Sequencing through FDA-approved or cleared lab diagnostic tests for patients with inherited ovarian or breast cancer.

Electronic health record vendor Practice Fusion has settled criminal and civil investigations with the Department of Justice for $145 million.

CMS is planning to launch a simplified comparison tool for Medicare beneficiaries to find care.

The pharmaceutical industry upped its lobbying efforts in 2019, with a record-high of $29 million spent lobbying Congress.

Medicare beneficiaries can receive acupuncture to treat lower back pain after CMS finalized coverage on Jan. 21. The treatment was previously non-covered by Medicare and was reviewed by CMS with evidence and examinations of policies of private payers.

More accountable care organizations are taking on downside financial risk in the Medicare Shared Savings Program than ever before, with 37% in the program today participating in these arrangements.

The Supreme Court won’t take up the ongoing appeal over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, leaving the decision in the hands of a lower court.