What’s Ahead: This Week

Hearings & Markups –

  • Tuesday, June 14
    • Senate HELP Committee, “Mark Up of RISE & SHINE Act, H.R. 1193, S. 4053, S. 4348 and S. 958.” Additional Information
    • House Energy and Commerce Committee, “Protecting America’s Consumers: Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Data Privacy and Security.” Additional Information
    • House Oversight and Reform Committee, Coronavirus Crisis Subcommittee, “Examining Federal Efforts to Prevent, Detect, and Prosecute Pandemic Relief Fraud to Safeguard Funds for All Eligible Americans.” Additional Information
    • House Committee on the Budget, “How the American Rescue Plan Saved Lives and the U.S. Economy.” Additional Information
  • Wednesday June 15
    • Appropriations Committee Announces Fiscal Year 2023 Markup Schedule, Subcommittee Mark-ups “Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.” Additional Information
  • Thursday, June 16
    • Senate HELP Committee, “An Update on the Ongoing Federal Response to COVID-19: Current Status and Future Planning.” Additional Information

Notable Policy Events –

  • Tuesday, June 14
  • Wednesday, June 15
  • Thursday, June 16
  • Friday, June 17
    • Alliance for Health Policy, “What’s Next in Home and Community Based Services?” Additional Information

Weekly Wrap-Up: Notable Health Care Developments from Last Week

COVID-19 Surveillance, Funding, Oversight and Data –

  • Data: To date, there are 85,344,502 total COVID-19 cases and 1,006,451 COVID-19 deaths in the United States. Also, 756,125,655 COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered and 590,999,136 individual COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered. Data
  • FDA Action Update: To date, FDA has authorized 437 tests under Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs), including 302 molecular tests, 85 antibody tests and 50 antigen tests. FDA also continues to update COVID-19 FAQs. (Monday Update)
  • On June 6, HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released its Semiannual Report to Congress which describes OIG’s work identifying significant risks, problems, abuses, deficiencies, remedies, as well as investigative outcomes relating to the administration of HHS programs and operations that were disclosed during the reporting period October 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022. Press Release Report
  • Also on June 6, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Crapo (R-Idaho) and Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Ranking Member Portman (R-Ohio) joined all Finance Committee Republicans to send a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) asking the agency to provide a detailed accounting of the $350 billion of COVID relief funds appropriated under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Press Release Letter

Medicare, Medicaid & Marketplaces –

  • On June 6, CMS released CMS National Quality Strategy: A Person-Centered Approach to Improving Quality. The strategy focuses on a person-centric approach from birth to death as individuals’ journey across the continuum of care, from home or community-based settings to hospitals to post-acute care as well as across payer types, including traditional Medicare. Press Release
  • On June 7, CMS released FAQs on agent and broker compensation for special enrollment periods. These FAQs provide guidance that paying differential compensation to agents and brokers for coverage in the same benefit year based on whether the enrollment is completed during an special enrollment period or during the open enrollment period is prohibited under federal law. Press Release FAQs
  • On June 8, CMS released new HCPCS codes for providers to bill for stand-alone vaccine counseling. This includes COVID-19 stand-alone vaccine counseling codes for counseling provided to Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries who are eligible both for Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) provisions. May Letter to States HCPCS Codes
  • Also on June 8, CMS released updated data on trends in hospitalization rates in 2020 and 2021 by month, state and various demographic characteristics, finding that groups of beneficiaries that were hospitalized at different points during the pandemic. Trend Report
  • On June 9, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report analyzing the impacts of work requirements and work supports on participants in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Medicaid.  The report found that work requirements have a very limited impact – if any – on improving average household income, and instead have likely increased the number of families in deep poverty. Press Release Report

Prescription Drug Pricing & Policy –

  • On June, 7 The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it will launch an inquiry into the prescription drug industry, requiring the six largest pharmacy benefit managers to provide information and records regarding their business practices. Press Release

Health IT & Digital Health –

  • On June 8, HHS Office of the National Health Coordinator (ONC) published a blog post on new ONC data which revealed that nearly all non-federal acute care hospitals were enabled to electronically prescribe controlled substances (EPCS) as of 2021. Blog Post
  • On June 9, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP released a notice requesting public comments to help inform development of a national strategy on privacy-preserving data sharing and analytics, along with associated policy initiatives. The national strategy will put forth a vision for responsibly harnessing privacy-preserving data sharing and analytics to benefit individuals and society. Notice
  • On June 10, GAO announced it is accepting nominations for Health Information Technology Advisory Committee (HITAC) appointments that will be effective January 1, 2023. Members serve 3-year terms, with the terms subject to renewal, for a total not to exceed 6 years of service on the committee. Letters of nomination and resumes should be submitted no later than July 22, 2022. Notice

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Policy –

  • On June 8, HHS announced nearly $15 million in funding for rural communities to address psychostimulant misuse and related overdose deaths. Press Release
  • On June 9, HHS released a readout of HHS Secretary Becerra’s participation in two roundtables held on June 7 with students and parents covering the impact of social media on youth mental health. Secretary Becerra committed to continue to listen to youth and parent voices as the Biden-Harris Administration develops further action on social media safety. Press Release

Veteran Health and Military Health –

  • On June 6, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report evaluating suicide prevention coordinators, finding that coordinators mistakenly closed some veteran referrals because coordinators lacked the proper training, guidance, and oversight necessary to maximize chances of reaching at-risk veterans referred by the crisis line. Press Release Report
  • On June 7, Senate Aging Committee Ranking Member Scott (R-S.C.) and Chair Casey (D-Pa.) along with a bipartisan, bicameral group sent a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, urging the agency to improve VA website accessibility for disabled individuals. Press Release Letter
  • On June 8, VA OIG released a report finding that certain limitations of the contract medical exam program puts veterans at risk for inaccurate claims decisions. OIG made four recommendations, including ensuring vendors can be held contractually accountable for unsatisfactory performance and establishing procedures for vendors to correct errors. Press Release Report
  • Also on June 8, GAO examined the Department of Defense (DOD) Military Health System (MHS) GENESIS—a commercial electronic health record system intended to integrate inpatient and outpatient medical and dental information. GAO made two recommendations to DOD including that the agency develop reliable cost and schedule estimates for the MHS GENESIS program that are consistent with GAO-identified best practices. Press Release Report
  • On June 9, VA announced the suspension of annual reassessments for participants of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers while the department continues to review the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. Press Release

Public Health & Health Equity –

  • On June 7, HHS released a new report on federal efforts to address racial and ethnic disparities in Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias. The report summarized different activities being taken by various agencies. Press Release Report
  • On June 8, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the launch of the “Next Legends” Youth E-cigarette Prevention Campaign to protect youth from the dangers of tobacco use. The campaign will educate American Indian/Alaska Native youth, ages 12-17. Press Release
  • On June 9, HHS announced the launch of the Building Bridges to Better Health: A Primary Health Care Challenge, a national competition with a total of $1 million in cash prizes to encourage innovation through technical assistance to health centers. Phase 1 submissions are due August 2, 2022. Phase 1 will include initial awards totaling $300,000 for up to 30 winners. Press Release

 Infant Formula –

  • On June 6, HHS released a statement by HHS Secretary Becerra on the Fifth Operation Fly Formula Flight. This flight will transport Nestlé infant formulas from Cologne, Germany to Fort Worth, Texas on June 9. Press Release
  • On June 9, FDA provided an update on the on additional steps it has taken that will lead to more infant formula available in the U.S. under the agency’s recent increased flexibilities. Press Release
  • On June 10, FDA provided an update on the on additional steps it has taken that will lead to more infant formula available in the U.S. under the agency’s recent increased flexibilities. Press Release
  • Also on June 10, Reps. Rodgers (R-WA), Guthrie (R-KY), and Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to the FDA requesting information including memos provided to the White House on the infant formula shortage. Press Release Letter

Women’s Health –

  • On June 8, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member. Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Warren (D-MA) led 20 senators in a letter to President Biden urging him to issue an executive order to protect access to abortion. Press Release Letter
  • On June 9, Senate Finance Committee Chair Wyden (D-Ore) and House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Pallone (D-N.J) sent a letter to CMS urging it to take steps to enforce Medicaid’s guarantee that Americans may see the health care providers of their choice. Press Release Letter

Misc. –

  • On June 8, CDC announced $215 Million in funding to advance National Cancer Prevention and Control toward Cancer Moonshot Goals. Eighty-six unique recipients from state, local, tribal, and territorial public health organizations and academic institutions received funding, representing all states, the District of Columbia, 18 tribal organizations, five U.S. territories, and three freely associated states. Press Release Awarded Recipients

Legislative Activity –

Votes and Committee Activity –

  • On June 7, President Biden signed into law the Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans Act (S.2533). This bill improves mammography services furnished by the Department of Veterans Affairs. WH Press release Press release
  • On June 8, the House passed the Food and Drug Amendments of 2022 (H.R. 7667) by a vote of 392-28. The bill would revise and extend the user-fee programs for prescription drugs, medical devices, generic drugs, and biosimilar biological products. The bill now moves to Senate for consideration. Press release

Introduced Legislation –

  • Also on June 6, Sen. Cramer (R-ND) introduced the Travel Nursing Agency Transparency Study Act (S.4352), which would require a study on the effects of travel nurse agencies on the health industry during the COVID–19 pandemic. Bill text Press release
  • On June 7, Reps. Dean (D-PA), Bucshon (R-IN), and O’Halleran (D-AZ) introduced the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act (H.R. 7961), which would protect hospital personnel from violence. Press release
  • Also on June 7, Rep. Underwood (D-IL) and nine bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Endometriosis CARE Act (H.R. 7974), which would advance research, promote awareness, and provide patient support with respect to endometriosis. Press release
  • On June 7, Senate HELP Committee Chair  Murray (D-WA), and Sens. Hirono (D-HI) and Cortez Masto (D-NV), along with Reps. Pressley (D-MA), Ocasio-Cotez (D-NY), and Bera (D-CA) and others announced the introduction of the previously introduced Affordability is Access Act (AAA) (S. 4347/H.R. 7894), which would ensure that people across the country can access and afford over-the-counter birth control options. Press Release Bill
  • On June 8, Rep. Miller-Meeks (R-IA) introduced the Securing Our Schools Act (H.R. 7979), which would allow certain funds provided in response to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 to be made available for school security measures. Bill text Press release
  • Also on June 8, Sens. Murkowski (R-AK), Feinstein (D-CA), Hassan (D-NH), and Sullivan (R-AK) introduced Bruce’s Law (S. 4358), which would establish an awareness campaign related to the lethality of fentanyl and fentanyl-contaminated drugs, to establish a Federal Interagency Work Group on Fentanyl Contamination of Illegal Drugs, and to provide community-based coalition enhancement grants to mitigate the effects of drug misuse. Bill text Press release
  • On June 9, Reps. Burgess (R-TX), Gonzalez (D-TX), and Jackson (R-TX) introduced the (H.R. 7995), which would exempt qualifying physicians from prior authorization requirements under Medicare Advantage plans. Press Release
  • Also on June 9, Rep. Guthrie (R-KY) and eight cosponsors introduced the More Options for Infants and Parents Act (H.R. 8010), which would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to act upon pending submissions for new infant formula, to increase regulatory flexibility in the event of an infant formula shortage. Bill text Press release
  • Also on June 9, Rep. LaTurner (R-KS) and eight cosponsors introduced the Jobs and Opportunities for Medicaid Act (H.R. 8014), which would implement a minimum work requirement for able-bodied adults enrolled in State Medicaid programs. Bill text Press release
  • Also on June 9, Reps. Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Smith (D-WA) introduced the Professional’s Access to Health (PATH) Workforce Integration Act (H.R. 8019), which would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants for career support for skilled internationally educated health professionals. Bill text One pager Press release
  • Also on June 9, Reps. Smith (D-WA) and Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced the Legislation to Help Immigrants Enter the Health Care Workforce (H.R. 8021), which would award grants to reduce barriers to immigrants becoming nurses or allied health professionals in the United States. Bill text Press release
  • Also on June 9, Reps. Smith (D-WA) and Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced the International Medical Graduate (IMG) Assistance Act (H.R. 8022), which would address barriers immigrants and refugees face to entering the health care workforce. Bill text One pager Press release