What’s Ahead: This Week

Hearings/Markups –

  • Tuesday, November 28
    • Senate HELP Committee, “Reducing Health Care Costs: Improving Affordability Through Innovation.”
  • Thursday, November 30
    • Senate HELP Committee, “Markup of S. 2076, BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act; H.R. 6615, Traumatic Brain Injury Program Reauthorization Act of 2018; H.R. 315, Improving Access to Maternity Care Act; S. 3482, Emergency Medical Services for Children Program Reauthorization Act of 2018; and pending nominations.”

 Notable Policy Events –

  • Tuesday, November 27
    • American Enterprise Institute (AEI), “The New Medicare Physician Payment Regulation: What Does it Mean for Physicians and Patients?” Additional information: https://bit.ly/2zUFMjm
    • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), “Systems Approaches to Improving Patient Care by Supporting Clinician Wellbeing.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2r3AD4b
    • The Hill, “Preparing for a Treatment: Alzheimer’s Diagnosis and Care.” Additional information: https://bit.ly/2AhfVlE
  • Wednesday, November 28
    • Alliance for Health Policy (AHP), “Understanding the Role of Rebates in Prescription Drug Pricing.” Additional information: https://bit.ly/2KtcLQx
    • NASEM, “Pain and Symptom Management for People with Serious Illness in the Context of the Opioid Epidemic: A Workshop.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2r5iV0d


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

 Legislative Activity –

  • On November 20, Sen. Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Khanna (D-CA) announced their intention to introduce the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act, which will significantly lower prescription drug prices for patients in the U.S. by ending government-granted monopolies for manufacturers who charge drug prices that are higher than the median prices at which the drugs are available in other countries. Press release: http://bit.ly/2r3zHNd Summary: http://bit.ly/2r3yIwv Section-by-section: http://bit.ly/2r2Ggj4 Bill text: http://bit.ly/2r1W4Tm

 ACA and Individual Insurance Markets –

  • On November 19, incoming Chair of the House Judiciary Committee Nadler (D-NY) penned a letter to Acting Attorney General Whitaker expressing his concern about the Administration’s unwillingness to engage with the Committee on the Texas v. United States case, which relates to the constitutionality of the ACA. Press release: https://bit.ly/2SccjJd Letter: https://bit.ly/2TFkvTz
  • Also on November 19, CMS released guidance for to states on section 1332 waivers, now known as State Relief and Empowerment Waivers. Guidance: https://go.cms.gov/2r68xp0
  • On November 21, CMS released a Weekly Enrollment Snapshot for the third week of the 2019 Open Enrollment period, showing that 748,244 individuals selected plans using the HealthCare.gov platform, for a total of 1.92 million. Fact sheet: https://go.cms.gov/2zrIwFj  
  • Also on November 21, CMS released a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for agents, brokers, and assisters providing consumers with details on plan coverage of certain abortion services. FAQ: https://go.cms.gov/2FHewuO

 Medicare and Medicaid –

  • On November 19, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on data reliability in the Medicaid managed care program, and recommending that CMS give states more information on data audits and how it plans to enforce new data reliability requirements. Summary with link to report: https://bit.ly/2OWypxe
  • On November 20, CMS announced the Civil Money Penalty Reinvestment Program (CMPRP), which is a three-year initiative to reinvest fines from nursing homes collected by CMS back into the facilities in an effort to improve quality. Press release: https://go.cms.gov/2DBUJKj Program webpage: https://go.cms.gov/2Ilx295
  • Also on November 20, CMS again approved Kentucky’s updated 1115 waiver application, which will impose work requirements as a condition of Medicaid eligibility for certain Medicaid expansion enrollees in the state. Approval letter: https://bit.ly/2mr1KDB
  • Also on November 20, CMS released an informational bulletin on the 2019 updates to the child and adult core health care quality measurement sets. Bulletin: http://bit.ly/2FHR4xo
  • On November 21, a federal judge in Maine ordered that the state must move forward with its Medicaid expansion, which was passed by a ballot initiative in 2017. Case: https://bit.ly/2R9yjnT

 Payment and Delivery System Reform –

  • On November 19, CMS posted an FAQ on the Integrated Care for Kids (InCK) model. FAQ: http://bit.ly/2FDwIpa
  • On November 20, CMS released a Report to Congress on the Independence at Home demonstration describing the impacts of the demonstration. Report: http://bit.ly/2FQ1afw

 Drug Prices and Regulation

  • On November 19, FDA Commissioner Gottlieb and Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Director Woodcock released a statement about the FDA’s efforts to address drug shortages. Post: http://bit.ly/2r37037
  • On November 20, HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report comparing the average sales price and average manufacturer prices for the second quarter of 2018. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2r7b6ah
  • Also on November 20, Co-Chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Sens. Collins (R-ME) and Shaheen (D-NH), sent letters to three large insurance companies requesting information on insulin prices and rebates. Press release: http://bit.ly/2r5ckmv
  • On November 21, Attorneys General of 22 states and D.C. filed signed onto an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold state’s ability to sue a drugmaker if the company fails to warn about the dangers of a drug. Amicus brief: https://bit.ly/2DUhESa

 Military & Veterans’ Health –

  • On November 19, Sens. Warren (D-MA) and Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to VA Secretary Wilkie expressing concern and requesting information about a report of patient neglect at the nursing home on the campus of the Brockton VA Medical Center. Press release: http://bit.ly/2r5caeT Letter: http://bit.ly/2r0i6pE
  • On November 21, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced plans to realign several program offices to improve efficiency in care coordination for veterans and meet a presidential executive order. The realignment begins on November 25, 2018, and involves the areas of population health, education and training of health care professionals, research, academic affiliations, engineering services, and human resources. Press release: https://bit.ly/2KrMge8
  • Also on November 21, VA announced that, in FY 2018, more than 36,000 service members submitted claims through the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program, which allows service members to file a claim for disability between 90 and 180 days prior to discharge from active duty. Press release: https://bit.ly/2KzF681

 Health IT –

  • On November 20, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Gottlieb and Director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health Shuren issued a joint statement on FDA’s updates to the Medical Device Safety Action Plan to enhance post-market safety, including additional funding and new pilot programs. Press release: https://bit.ly/2TEvmNO
  • On November 21, National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) announced that it is seeking feedback on a draft project description, “Securing Telehealth Remote Patient Monitoring Ecosystem.” Comments are due by December 21. Draft paper: https://bit.ly/2Kt6B2U

Misc. –

  • On November 21, HHS Deputy Secretary Hargan announced the initial participants of the Deputy Secretary’s Innovation and Investment Summit (DSIIS) and the date of the first meeting, December 18. DSIIS is a yearlong collaboration between private sector participants and HHS to discuss innovation in the health care sector. Press release: https://bit.ly/2S657hr
  • Also on November 21, HHS activated aid for uninsured Californians in need of medications lost in the state’s recent wildfires. Press release: https://bit.ly/2zp859T