What’s Ahead: This Week

Notable Policy Events

  • Monday, October 15
    • American Enterprise Institute (AEI), “Nurse Practitioners and America’s Primary Care Shortage.” Additional information: https://bit.ly/2A6zYo9
    • Brookings Institution, “Crafting Public Policy to Address the Nation’s Opioid Epidemic.” Additional information: https://brook.gs/2NFW44e
    • Healthcare Leadership Council, “Briefing: Addressing Needs for Complex Populations.”
    • Economic Club of Washington, D.C., “Disruption in the Health Care Industry and the Future of Health Care Delivery.” Additional information: https://bit.ly/2OWWN5O
  • Monday, October 15 – Thursday, October 18
    • America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), “National Conference on Medicare, Medicaid and Duals.” Additional information: https://bit.ly/2CbXjWY
  • Tuesday, October 16
    • U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Seventh Annual Health Care Summit.” Additional information: https://bit.ly/2pNqZCg
    • Alliance for Health Policy (AHP), “Webinar: Potential Midterm Election Implications for Health Care.” Additional information: https://bit.ly/2PwmXt8
  • Wednesday, October 17
    • HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, “Health IT Advisory Committee.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2OZxlNb
  • Thursday, October 18
    • AEI, “Positive Disruption in Health Care: What Will it Take?” Additional information: https://bit.ly/2EfUIh7
    • USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy, “Medicare Part D: What Can Be Done to Improve the Program?” Additional information: https://brook.gs/2NAeinS
  • Friday, October 19


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

 Legislative Activity –

  • On October 9, Reps. Wagner (R-MO) and Sessions (R-TX) introduced the Child and Dependent Care Modernization Act of 2018 (H.R. 7057), which would increase the tax exclusion for employer-provided dependent care assistance and allow limited annual carryforward of unused dependent care flexible spending arrangement account balances. Press release: https://bit.ly/2CEiwcZ
  • Also on October 9, Sens. Cruz (R-TX) and Paul (R-KY) introduced the Retirement Freedom Act (S. 3560), which would allow individuals to opt out of Medicare Part A. Rep. Palmer (R-AL) introduced companion legislation in the House (H.R. 6703). Press release: https://bit.ly/2CFzE1X Bill text: https://bit.ly/2A6Apik
  • On October 10, the President signed into law the Know the Lowest Price Act of 2018 (S. 2553) and the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act (S. 2554), which will collectively prohibit Medicare or Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans and health insurance issuers and group health plans from including pharmacy “gag clauses” in contract agreements. Press releases: https://bit.ly/2pPAlgM and https://bit.ly/2RFRkir and https://bit.ly/2pPAlgM Bill text: https://bit.ly/2PqoalD and https://bit.ly/2C8CfAF
  • Also on October 10, Sens. McCaskill (D-MO) and Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Opioid Advocacy Transparency Act (S. 3565), which would require opioid manufacturers to disclose payments made to patient and consumer organizations involved in opioid-related advocacy. Press release: https://bit.ly/2EpPMpY

 ACA Implementation –

  • On October 11, CMS announced that the average premium for second lowest cost silver plans on the federally-facilitated Exchanges will drop by 1.5 percent for the 2019 coverage year. Press release:  https://go.cms.gov/2ywxPA4 Fact sheet: https://go.cms.gov/2OmHAeL

 Medicare –

 Payment and Delivery System Reforms –

  • On October 9, CMS announced that 1,299 entities have signed agreements to participate in the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement – Advanced (BPCI Advanced) model. Press release: https://go.cms.gov/2ytnJQh
  • Also on October 9, CMS released the Year 5 Evaluation and Monitoring Annual Report for Models 2 through 4 of the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) Initiative. Report: https://bit.ly/2EeS4s4

 Drug Prices and Regulation

  • On October 9, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new guidance documents on developing generic copies of branded medicine in an effort to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Commissioner Gottlieb statement: https://bit.ly/2y8nZoM
  • Also on October 10, Department of Justice approved the CVS-Aetna merger on the condition that Aetna’s Medicaid Part D prescription drug plan be divested to WellCare Health Plans. Press release: https://bit.ly/2pM0RaN

 Military & Veterans’ Health –

  • On October 9, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Walz (D-MN) sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Wilkie urging VA to comply with an August 8 request to provide the Committee with any and all communications between VA officials and Ike Perlmutter, Bruce Moskowitz, and Marc Sherman, as well as travel records from Mar-a-Lago. Press release: https://bit.ly/2yCQVo4 Letter: https://bit.ly/2pO75a6
  • On October 10, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Wilkie and Department of Defense Secretary Mattis announced the signing of a joint statement pledging that the two departments will align their HER systems. Press release: https://bit.ly/2pXx13v
  • Also on October 10, VA announced the publication of a study by VA researchers that identified three genetic mutations that govern cholesterol levels, which could lead to the development of new drugs to treat cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Press release: https://bit.ly/2A6SNaI
  • Also on October 10, VA announced that it recently won a 2018 Government Innovation Award for the VA Medical Images and Reports feature in My HealtheVet, VA’s online health portal. Press release: https://bit.ly/2QL0XuN
  • On October 11, VA announced that President Trump recently approved the appointment of four new Veterans Law Judges to VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Press release: https://bit.ly/2CGuWRw
  • On October 12, VA announced the appointment of Michael S. Heimall to serve as the director of the Washington, D.C. VA Medical Center effective October 14. Press release: https://bit.ly/2RKa1l1

Health IT –

  • On October 9, HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced the formation of a multidisciplinary cybersecurity team, which includes an Office of Audit Services, an Office of Evaluation and Inspections, an Office of Investigations for Computer Crimes, and an Office of Counsel. Announcement: https://bit.ly/2Ce4NZC
  • On October 10, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) and Sens. Warren (D-MA) and Smith (D-MN) penned a letter to FDA Commissioner Gottlieb to express concern about the agency’s proposed regulation of digital health devices and to request information on how the FDA plans to use its precertification pilot program. Press release: https://bit.ly/2CEZUtl Letter: https://bit.ly/2OjT5DU

 Hurricane Michael –


  • On October 9, 14 bipartisan senators penned a letter to CMS Administrator Verma and HHS Secretary Azar urging them to focus on strategies to reduce maternal mortality rates in the United States, including for pregnant women and mothers enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. The House Ways & Means Committee also announced the launch of an investigation on the issue. Press release: https://bit.ly/2ISE4Tt Letter: https://bit.ly/2QJvoBR Ways & Means Committee press release: https://bit.ly/2yvycuw
  • Also on October 9, HHS released a statistical brief on expenses for office-based physician visits by specialty and insurance type in 2016. The overall mean expense for an office-based physician visit was $265, while the median expense per visit was $116. Press release: https://bit.ly/2RLjCIb Statistical brief: https://bit.ly/2QSmTo7
  • On October 10, HHS announced a corporate partnership with Johnson & Johnson to focus on the development of innovative products to combat chemical, biological, and nuclear threats. Press release: https://bit.ly/2C8Cc7Z
  • Also on October 10, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Grassley (R-IA) penned a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Joseph Simons requesting that the FTC conduct an assessment of potentially anticompetitive contracting practices between insurers and hospital systems in the U.S. deliberately designed to prevent consumers’ access to quality and lower cost care. Press release: https://bit.ly/2yAh4nv Letter: https://bit.ly/2yAhoTf
  • On October 11, HHS announced that it had awarded approximately $2.34 billion in Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program grants to cities, counties, states, and community-based organizations in fiscal year 2018. Press release: https://bit.ly/2Eh554z