What’s Ahead: This Week

Hearings/Markups –

  • Tuesday, February 27
    • Senate HELP Committee, “The Opioid Crisis: The Role of Technology and Data in Preventing and Treating Addiction.”
    • House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial & Antitrust Law, “Competition in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: The Proposed Merger of CVS Health and Aetna.”
    • House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on Healthcare, Benefits, & Administrative Rules, “An Obamacare Failure: The Multi-State Plan Program.”
    • House Budget Committee, “CBO Oversight: The Role of Behavioral Modeling in Scoring and Baseline Construction.”
  • Wednesday, February 28
    • Senate HELP Committee, “Markup of S. 292 Childhood Cancer STAR Act, S. 2278 State Offices of Rural Health Reauthorization Act, S. 1091 Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act.”
    • House Energy & Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health, “Combating the Opioid Crisis: Helping Communities Balance Enforcement and Patient Safety.”
  • Thursday, March 1
    • House Energy & Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health, “MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015) and MIPS: and Update on the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.”

Notable Policy Events –

  • Monday, February 26
    • Alliance for Health Policy, “Using State Flexibility to Improve Medicaid Long Term Services and Supports.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2EXGQHw
  • Tuesday, February 27
    • Bipartisan Policy Center, “The Future Role of Government in Health IT and Digital Health.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2CbAUcV
  • Wednesday, February 28
    • Northern Virginia Health Policy Forum, “CMS’ Provider Engagement in 2018 and Issuance of the New Medicare Cards.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2EKu7Jd
  • Thursday, March 1
    • S. Chamber of Commerce, “Combating the Opioid Crisis: From Communities to the Capitol.” Additional information: http://uscham.com/2ENqvWI
  • Thursday, March 1 – Friday, March 2
    • Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, “March Public Meeting.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2EYiOMJ
    • Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, “March Public Meeting.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2ELFPD6

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

Legislative Activity –

  • On February 23, House Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Neal (D-MA) and House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Pallone (D-NJ) introduced H.R. 5083 which would provide for coverage of certain services furnished by opioid treatment programs under the Medicare program. Press release: http://bit.ly/2F2FwmU

ACA Market Stabilization and Implementation –

  • On February 20, HHS, the Department of Labor, and the Treasury Department issued a proposed rule to extend the maximum duration of short-term health plans from three months to less than twelve months. Comments are due by April 23. Press release: http://bit.ly/2on6JGn Fact sheet: http://go.cms.gov/2sOemet Proposed Rule: http://bit.ly/2HEnMwH
  • On February 22, CMS released guidance on third-party auditor operational readiness reviews for the enhanced direct enrollment pathway and related oversight requirements. Guidance: http://go.cms.gov/2sPItlQ
  • Also on February 22, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray (D-WA), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Wyden (D-OR), House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Pallone (D-NJ), and House Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Neal (D-MA) sent a letter to Idaho Department of Insurance Director Cameron requesting information about the state’s plan to allow health plans that do not comply with the ACA’s rules. Press release: http://bit.ly/2EOy1Rg Letter: http://bit.ly/2sKixYR
  • Also on February 22, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released final rules related to the definition of a covered entity for the purposes of the health insurance providers fee. Final rule: http://bit.ly/2F5Mrvv

Medicare –

  • On February 23, CMS released a notice to eligible clinicians announcing an opportunity to participate in a study on the burdens associated with reporting quality measures in 2018. Applications are due by March 23. Notice: http://go.cms.gov/2F9EnKt

Medicaid –

  • On February 20, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report finding that evaluations of section 1115 demonstration models have yielded limited results, and may not be effective in saving money and improving care. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2EmmrWQ

New Payment and Delivery System Models –

  • On February 21, CMS released materials from its February 15 Open Door Forum on the BPCI Advanced Model Overview and Application Process. Link: http://bit.ly/2EMOv8b
  • On February 22, CMS updated the list of organizations with interim preliminary recognition for its Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) Expanded Model. Background with link to list: http://bit.ly/2bJx4bo
  • Also on February 22, CMS released an evaluation of evidence-based wellness programs. Report: http://bit.ly/2FoKjfW

Mental Health and Substance Abuse –

  • On February 21, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced that it is seeking applications for up to $2 million for a grant to improve health care for the Hispanic/Latino community. Press release: http://bit.ly/2GEGhzD
  • Also on February 21, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it is overseeing the destruction and recall of a large volume of kratom products and reiterated its concerns on risks associated with the opioid. Press release: http://bit.ly/2EY8rby

Drug and Medical Device Regulation –

  • On February 21, the White House released a report on the economy which stated that government health insurance requirements are dampening drug price competition, leading to inflated costs. Report: http://bit.ly/2CdcOi7

Veterans’ Health –

  • On February 20, SAMHSA and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced eight cities participating in the Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families. Press release: http://bit.ly/2olrum5
  • On February 21, VA Office of Information and Technology (OIT) released its 2017 Year in Review report. Press release: http://bit.ly/2oqEeYr Report: http://bit.ly/2BK1War
  • Also on February 21, VA announced a partnership with DeepMind to build machine learning tools to identify health risks for veterans. Press release: http://bit.ly/2EJUQ4s
  • On February 22, VA announced the launch of Concierge for Care, a healthcare enrollment initiative that connects with former services members shortly after they separate from service. Press release: http://bit.ly/2sOl5Fi

Misc. –

  • On February 21, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Walden (R-OR), Health Subcommittee Chairman Burgess (R-TX) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Harper (R-MS), sent a letter to HHS Secretary Azar regarding an audit of the Department’s FY 2017 financial statement. Summary with link to letter: http://bit.ly/2sQMZk8
  • Also on February 21, Rep. Maloney (D-NY) and seven Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Speaker Ryan (R-WI) urging him to allow debate and a vote on legislation to repeal the Dickey Amendment, which would allow the CDC to conduct research on gun violence. Press release with letter text: http://bit.ly/2FkCNCV
  • Also on February 21, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Walden (R-OR), Health Subcommittee Chair Burgess (R-TX), and Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee Harper (R-MS) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Azar raising questions about the Department’s compliance with its recent financial audit for fiscal year 2017. Press release: http://bit.ly/2sMca7c Letter: http://bit.ly/2sQXAf0
  • On February 22, GAO released its 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, which describes its goals and objectives to support Congress over that period, as well as a document describing its key efforts over the near-term. Strategic plan: http://bit.ly/2ox3Ra7 Key efforts: http://bit.ly/2oxlAOL
  • On February 23, HHS announced the availability of $260 million in a new funding opportunity for the Title X family planning program to help improve and expand quality care. Applications are due by May 24. Press release: http://bit.ly/2owP8vT Funding opportunity: http://bit.ly/2ouFidQ
  • Also on February 23, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on the urban-rural county and state differences in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), finding that in 2015, rural residents had higher age-adjusted prevalence of COPD than residents in micropolitan or metropolitan areas. Report: http://bit.ly/2F8mHi7