Weekly Wrap-up and What’s Ahead

Hearings and Markups –

  • Tuesday, December 6
    • House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (VA), Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, “Transitional Housing Reform: Examining the Future of the VA Grant and Per Diem Program.” Additional information
  • Wednesday, December 7
    • House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (VA), “Ensuring Effective Implementation of Toxic Exposure Legislation.” Additional information

Notable Policy Events –

  • Monday, December 5 – Tuesday, December 6
    • Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), “Healthcare Cybersecurity Forum.” Additional information
  • Monday, December 5
    • American Enterprise Institute, “Reforming the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Additional information
    • Personalized Medicine Coalition, “Improving Diagnosis and Treatment Through Personalized Medicine.” Additional information
  • Tuesday, December 6 – Thursday, December 8
  • Tuesday, December 6
    • Center for Health Care Strategies, “Population-Based Payments in Medicaid: Strengthening Provider Incentives to Transform Care.” Additional information
    • R Street, “Harm Reduction 101: Health Providers and Harm Reduction.” Additional information
    • STAT News, “STATUS List Spotlight: A Conversation with Dr. Otis Brawley, Johns Hopkins University.” Additional information
    • Washington Post, “Building and Sustaining Public Trust in Science.” Additional information
  • Wednesday, December 7
    • Health IT Leadership Roundtable, “Maintaining Consumer Trust in Health Care Through Data Privacy and Secure Patient Access to Health Information.” Additional information
    • Axios, “The Post-Midterm Health Care Agenda.” Additional information
    • Blue Shield of California/The California Endowment, “Addressing Social Drivers of Health Through Payment Innovation and Collaboration.” Additional information
    • National Primary Care Transformation Summit, “Value-based at Scale: Advanced AI for Advanced Primary Care.” Additional information
    • The Government Executive Media Group, “Virtual Government Data Summit.”  Additional information
    • The Joint Commission, “Health Center Educational Series: The Joint Commission Health Equity Standards.” Additional information
  • Thursday, December 8 – Friday, December 9
  • Thursday, December 8
    • Health Affairs, “The Health and Policy Implications of Building Income Supports for Low-Income Families with Young Children.” Additional information
    • NEJM Catalyst, “The Health Care Workforce Crisis.” Additional information
    • U.S. News & World Report, “Inside U.S. News Best Hospitals: A Quality Reporting Dialogue.” Additional information
  • Friday, December 9
    • Alliance for Health Policy, “Examining the Social Determinants of Health: Measures, Evidence, and Policy Solutions.” Additional information
    • Cato Institute, “Performance Review: Evaluating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Wake of the COVID Pandemic.” Additional information

Weekly Wrap-Up: Notable Health Care Developments from Last Week
Medicare, Medicaid, Marketplaces & Coverage –

  • On November 28, CMS issued a memorandum to state survey agency directors on workplace violence in hospitals. Memorandum
  • On November 29, CMS released the latest enrollment data for Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, highlighting that nearly 65 million people were enrolled in Medicare and 90.6 million people in Medicaid and CHIP in August 2022. Enrollment Data
  • On November 30, CMS announced that the comment period for Oregon’s Section 1115 Substance Use Disorder Demonstration amendment, which would temporarily expand Oregon Health Plan (OHP) coverage to certain individuals with income from 138-200 percent of the federal poverty level currently enrolled in OHP, is open from November 30 to December 30, 2022. Pending Application Comments
  • Also on November 30, CMS issued a reminder that Medicaid and CHIP programs will be required to cover approved adult vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices without cost sharing for certain enrollees beginning October 1, 2023. Reminder
  • Also on November 30, CMS released a request for information (RFI) on issues related to the Essential Health Benefits under the ACA. Comments are due January 31, 2023. RFI
  • On December 1, HHS issued a notice outlining the federal medical assistance percentages (FMAP), enhanced federal medical assistance percentages (eFMAP), and disaster-recovery FMAP adjustment rates that HHS will use in determining the amount of federal matching for Medicaid and various other federal programs for fiscal year 2024. Notice
  • Also on December 1, Rep. Sewell (D-AL) and 119 bipartisan House lawmakers sent a letter urging House leadership to bring the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act (H.R. 1946) to the Floor for a vote before the end of the 117th Congress. Letter Press Release
  • Also on December 1, CDC released a report providing estimates on health insurance coverage based on data from the 2022 National Health Interview Survey. Report
  • On December 2, CMS issued a notice announcing a $688 calendar year (CY) 2023 application fee that is required with any Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP enrollment application. Notice
  • Also on December 2, CMS announced that the comment period for Wisconsin’s Section 1115 application to extend the state’s BadgerCare Reform demonstration is open from December 2, 2022 to January 1, 2023. Pending Application Comment

Payment & Delivery System Models –

Public Health Prevention, Surveillance, & Data – 

  • COVID-19 Data: To date, there are 98,777,220 total COVID-19 cases and 1,077,303 COVID-19 deaths in the United States. Also, 921,275,395 COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered and 655,280,140 individual COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered. Data
  • FDA Action Update: To date, FDA has authorized 443 tests under Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs), including 302 molecular tests, 85 antibody tests and 55 antigen tests. FDA also continues to update COVID-19 FAQs.
  • On November 28, the Biden Administration offered support for the World Health Organization’s announcement that it will rename monkeypox to “mpox” to better address the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease. Press Release WHO Announcement
  • Also on November 28, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a news release in which National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Director Dr. Fauci reflected on the perpetual challenge of infectious diseases. News Release
  • On November 29, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released a report on changes in emergency department visits in the initial period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Report
  • Also on November 29, CDC awarded $3.2 billion to help state, local, and territorial jurisdictions strengthen their public health workforce and infrastructure. Press Release Grant Program Funding Page Funded Jurisdictions
  • Also on November 29, CDC updated its guidance for the management of COVID-19 in homeless service sites and in correctional and detention facilities. Guidance
  • Also on November 29, CDC issued a request for information soliciting comments to update the CDC Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health and associated resources. Comments are due by January 30, 2023. RFI
  • Also on November 29, the Biden Administration announced new actions and a report to advance global health security, accelerating implementation of the National Biodefense Strategy and Implementation Plan for Countering Biological Threats, Enhancing Pandemic Preparedness, and Achieving Global Health Security. Press Release Report
  • On November 30, House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Reps. Guthrie (R-KY) and Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to NIH Senior Official Lawrence Tabak, following up on 12 letters requesting information on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter also serves as a formal notice for NIH to preserve all records and materials related to the topics outlined in the previous letters. Press Release Letter
  • Also on November 30, Rep. Cohen (D-TN) led a letter with 10 House Members to ask President Biden and HHS Secretary Becerra to declare a pediatric public health emergency (PHE) to address the pediatric public health crisis, which includes pediatric respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza and mental health. Press Release Letter
  • Also on November 30, CDC announced it was planning to test wastewater for polio in select communities. Press Release
  • On December 2, HHS Secretary Becerra released a statement declaring the end of the mpox PHE. The current mpox PHE will end on January 31, 2023. Press Release

Health IT, Privacy, & Digital Health –

  • On November 29, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) published a blog on the Strengthening the Technical Advancement and Readiness of Public Health Agencies via Health Information Exchange (STAR HIE) Program and how this program helped the West Virginia Health Information Network (WVHIN) support the state’s public health agency during the COVID-19 pandemic. Blog
  • On November 30, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee released a report focusing on telehealth across selected health care programs in six Federal agencies during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report identified several program integrity risks associated with billing for telehealth services. Press Release Report Infographic
  • On December 1, ONC published a blog on the incorporation of health IT into the latest National HIV/AIDS Strategy Federal Implementation Plan for the United States 2022-2025. Blog
  • Also on December 1, HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a bulletin to highlight the obligations of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) on covered entities and business associates (“regulated entities”) under the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules (“HIPAA Rules”) when using online tracking technologies.  These online tracking technologies collect and analyze information about how internet users are interacting with a regulated entity’s website or mobile application. Bulletin Press Release

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Policy –

  • On November 28, HHS and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued a proposed rule outlining proposed changes to the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Patient Records under 42 CFR part 2 (“Part 2”), which protects patient privacy and records concerning treatment related to substance use challenges from unauthorized disclosures. HHS Press Release SAMHSA Press Release Proposed Rule
  • Also on November 28, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jordan (R-OH) wrote a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Milgram on the oversight of DEA’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Letter
  • On November 29, SAMHSA released a guide on community engagement. The guide reviews evidence related to leveraging community engagement to support the implementation and scale-up of evidence-based programs and policies. Press Release Guide Overview Guide
  • On November 30, CDC released a report which presents age-adjusted trends in drug overdose death rates, including trends in the type of opioid drug involved, for adults aged 65 and over for 2000–2020. Report
  • Also on November 30, HHS released two reports on the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) Demonstration Program, which assesses access to, and the quality and scope of, community-based mental health services, as well as the costs of mental health services. Reports
  • On December 1, SAMHSA published a blog reaffirming its commitment to end the HIV epidemic through equity and innovation. People with mental or substance use disorders are at an increased risk of HIV, and SAMHSA has awarded millions in grants to meet the behavioral health needs of people either at risk for contracting or living with HIV/AIDS. Press Release
  • Also on December 1, the Senate Finance Committee released its fifth and final legislative discussion draft of its bipartisan mental health initiative. This discussion draft is focused on policies aimed at improving mental health parity in Medicare and Medicaid and helping to put access to mental health and SUD services on par with physical health care. Press Release Discussion Draft
  • On December 2, HHS released a report on the changes in clinician waiver uptake and the number of unique patients receiving buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) from retail pharmacies. Report in Brief Report 
  • Also on December 2, HHS provided an update on the HHS Roadmap for Behavioral Health Integration which was published in September, highlighting several actions HHS has taken or is planning to take to support its implementation. Press Release Roadmap
  • Also on December 2, HHS provided an update on progress made since the release of the HHS Overdose Prevention Strategy in 2021, showing expanded treatment capacity, lives saved from overdose, and commitment to long term recovery supports. Press Release Fact Sheet

Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices, & Biomedical Research –

  • On November 30, the FDA approved Rebyota, the first fecal microbiota product approved by the agency for the prevention of recurrence of Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) in individuals 18 years of age and older. Press Release
  • Also on November 30, Sen. Brown (D-OH) hosted a conference call to discuss a letter he and several Senate colleagues wrote to the Biden Administration to address the current shortage of the antibiotic amoxicillin. Press Release Letter
  • Also on November 30, HHS issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to revise the current 340B Drug Pricing Program administrative dispute resolution (ADR) final rule with a new process. Proposed Rule
  • On December 2, the DEA established the initial 2023 aggregate production quotas for controlled substances in schedules I and II of the Controlled Substances Act and the assessment of annual needs for certain list I chemicals. Final Order

Veterans Health and Military Health –

  • On November 29, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the VA’s use of supplemental funding received for COVID-19 relief during 2020 and 2021. GAO found that the majority of funds went to three areas of VA’s operations including health care, digital services, and IT efforts. Report in Brief Report 
  • Also on November 29, VA GAO released a report finding that the VA received approximately $36.7 billion in supplemental funding outside of its annual appropriation from three COVID-19 relief laws between 2020 and 2021. Report in Brief Report
  • Also on November 29, the VA issued a proposed rule to revise its regulations concerning reimbursement rates for health care that the VA provides to individuals who are not otherwise eligible for such care as veterans or other VA beneficiaries. Proposed Rule
  • On November 30, Sen. Paul (R-KY) and 12 Senators sent a letter to Senate leadership expressing opposition to moving forward with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023, unless the Senate votes on an amendment to prohibit discharges from the Armed Forces solely because of COVID-19 vaccination status. Letter Press Release
  • On December 1, the VA announced that on January 1, 2023, the VA will open enrollment for Veterans Affairs Life Insurance, the first new VA life insurance program for Veterans in more than 50 years. Press Release

Health Systems, Public Health, & Health Equity –

  • On November 28, a bipartisan group of 54 House Members sent a letter to House leadership requesting any end-of-year legislative package include provisions that would strengthen and expand the Housing Credit for low-income housing to increase affordable housing production. Press Release Letter
  • On November 29, CDC released a report on awareness of the MyPlate plan dietary recommendations between 2017 and 2020. Report
  • Also on November 29, HHS officials from across several HHS departments authored an article in Health Affairs on the importance of community care hubs – entities supporting community-based organizations – in addressing health-related social needs. Article
  • Also on November 29, AHRQ released a report on hospital stays among children and adolescents in 2019. Report
  • On December 1, the White House released a fact sheet recognizing World AIDS Day, highlighting the Biden Administration’s efforts to end HIV/AIDS nationally and globally. It also announced a new five-year strategy to guide the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) globally. Fact Sheet PEPFAR Strategy
  • Also on December 1, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) jointly released guidance and an implementation memorandum for federal agencies on recognizing and including Indigenous Knowledge in federal research, policy, and decision making. Press Release Guidance Memorandum
  • Also on December 1, CDC issued a press release stating that COVID-19 disruptions in HIV testing and prevention highlight the need for innovation and investment. Press Release
  • Also on December 1, the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps announced it will change its medical standards to accept future applicants living with chronic hepatitis B and HIV. The updated medical accession standards will take effect on December 1, 2022. Press Release
  • On December 2, CDC released a report on the percentage of adults living in food insecure families by income and rural/urban status in 2021. Report

Misc. –

  • On November 29, President Biden declared that a major disaster exists in West Virginia and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides. Press Release
  • Also on November 29, the FDA issued two guidance documents about food allergen labeling requirements to help the food industry meet the requirements to list any major food allergen on the labels of FDA-regulated foods. Press Release Draft Guidance Final Guidance

Legislative Activity –

Votes and Committee Activity –

  • On November 28, the Patents for Humanity Act of 2022 (H.R. 5796) passed the Senate with an amendment by unanimous consent. The bill would establish a competition to award certificates that can be redeemed to accelerate certain matters at the Patent and Trademark Office. The bill now heads to the President to sign into law. Press release
  • On November 29, the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act of 2022 (S. 3846) passed the House by a vote of 389-22. The bill would reauthorize the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program. The bill now heads to the President to sign into law. Bill text Press release
  • On December 1, the Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy Act (H.R. 1193) passed the Senate with an amendment by unanimous consent. The bill would establish a program under which the Director of the National Institutes of Health shall support or conduct research on valvular heart disease. The bill now heads to the President to sign into law. Bill text Press release
  • Also on December 1, the Delivering Optimally Urgent Labor Access (DOULA) for Veterans Affairs Act (H.R. 2521) passed the House by a vote of 376-44. The bill would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study on the feasibility and advisability of furnishing doula services to certain veterans. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. Bill text Press release
  • Also on December 1, the One Stop Shop Community Reentry Program Act of 2021 (H.R. 3372) passed the House by a vote of 259-167. The bill would authorize implementation grants to community-based nonprofits to operate one-stop reentry centers. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. Bill text Press release
  • Also on December 1, the Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act (H.R. 7158) passed the House as amended. The bill would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts and agreements for the payment of care in non-VA medical foster homes for certain veterans who are unable to live independently. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. Bill text Press release
  • Also on December 1, the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2022 (S. 4052) passed the Senate with an amendment by voice vote. The bill would reauthorize a program for early detection, diagnosis, and treatment regarding deaf and hard-of-hearing newborns, infants, and young children. The bill now heads to the House for consideration. Bill text
  • Also on December 1, the Pregnant Women in Custody Act (H.R. 6878) passed the House by a vote of 324 – 90. The bill would address the health needs of incarcerated women related to pregnancy and childbirth. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. Bill text Press release
  • On December 2, the Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act of 2022 (H.R. 8876) passed the House by a vote of 390-26. The bill would reauthorize the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. Bill text Press release Summary One-pager Section-by-section CBO score
  • Also on December 2, President Biden signed the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act (H.R. 8454) into law. The bill would expand research on cannabidiol and marijuana. Bill text Press release

Introduced Legislation –

  • On November 29, Reps. Barragan (D-CA) and Joyce (R-PA) introduced the Access to Innovative Treatments Act of 2022 (H.R. 9358), which would provide a review process for adverse national coverage determinations with respect to drug coverage under the Medicare program. Press release Fact sheet
  • Also on November 29, Sen. Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act (S. 5136), which would protect employees from discrimination based on family caregiver responsibilities. Bill text Press release
  • Also on November 29, Sens. Baldwin (D-WI) and Collins (R-ME) introduced the Healthcare for Our Troops Act (S. 5142), which would eliminate certain health care charges for members of the Selected Reserve eligible for TRICARE Reserve Select. Bill text Press release One pager
  • Also on November 29, Sens. Manchin (D-WV) and Capito (R-WV) introduced the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act (Legacy Act) (S. 5146), which would provide for the sealing of records relating to Federal nonviolent criminal offenses related to substance use disorders. Press release
  • On November 30, Sens. Murphy (D-CT) and Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Strengthening Consumer Protections and Medical Debt Transparency Act (S. 5150), which would provide additional transparency and consumer protections relating to medical debt collection practices. Press release
  • On December 1, Rep. Bonamici (D-OR) and 12 cosponsors introduced the Build Housing with Care Act (H.R. 9375), which would establish a grant program to address the crises in accessing affordable housing and child care through the co-location of housing and child care. Press release
  • Also on December 1, Reps. Castro (D-TX) and Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced the Financial Relief for Civilians Treated at Military Hospitals Act (H.R. 9380), which would address claims of the United States Government relating to certain treatment received by civilians at military medical treatment facilities. Press release  Bill summary
  • Also on December 1, Reps. Hayes (D-CT), Dingell (D-MI), and Ross (D-NC) introduced the Students’ Access to Freedom & Educational Rights Act (SAFER) Act (H.R. 9387), which would strengthen civil rights protections against harassment based on sex, race, color, national origin, disability, or age. Press release
  • Also on December 1, Sens. Cardin (D-MD), Booker (D-NJ), Bennet (D-CO), and Brown (D-OH) introduced the Assessing Health Evaluations to Advance Decision-making (AHEAD) Act (S. 5162), which would provide for a study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the potential benefits on population health outcomes of incorporating into the Federal legislative process tools that measure the impacts of proposed legislation (including in areas outside of health care) on health and health disparities. Rep. Trone (D-MD) introduced companion legislation in the House (H.R. 9400). Bill text Press release
  • Also on December 1, Sen. Hickenlooper (D-CO) introduced the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult Use Regulated Environment (PREPARE) Act (S. 5166), which would establish a Commission on the Federal Regulation of Cannabis to study a prompt and plausible pathway to the Federal regulation of cannabis. Bill text Press release Bill summary
  • Also on December 1, Sen. Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Protecting Communities from Plastics Act (S. 5167), which would extend the temporary order for fentanyl-related substances. Bill text Press release
  • Also on December 1, Sens. Lee (R-UT), Rubio (R-FL), and Hagerty (R-TN) introduced the Protecting Our Children from the CDC Act (S. 5171), which would prohibit the Secretary of HHS from placing any vaccine for COVID-19 on the child and adolescent immunization schedule unless the Secretary has posted on the public website of the CDC all clinical data in the possession of HHS relating to the safety and efficacy of such vaccine. Rep. Biggs (R-AZ) and ten cosponsors introduced the companion bill in the House (H.R. 9404). Bill text Press release One pager

Also on December 1, Sen. Cortez Masto (D-NV) and eight cosponsors introduced the Women’s Health Patient Navigators Act (S. 5174), which would establish a grant program to fund women’s health patient navigators for patients seeking abortion care. Press release