What’s Ahead: This Week

Hearings and Markups – 

  • Tuesday, July 16
    • House Energy & Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations, “Oversight of Federal Efforts to Combat the Spread of Illicit Fentanyl.”

Notably Policy Events –

  • Monday, July 15
    • Alliance for Health Policy, “Balancing the Bills: Policy Solutions to Address Surprise Billing.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2YTSBpe
  • Wednesday, July 17
  • Thursday, July 18

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

Legislative Activity –

Committee Activity, Executive Actions, and Floor Votes

  • On July 11, House Energy & Commerce Committee advanced ten healthcare-related bills to the Full Committee for consideration, including the FAIR Drug Pricing Act (H.R. 2296) and the No Surprises Act (H.R. 3630). Press release: http://bit.ly/2G9Ooq8

 Introduced Legislation

  • On July 9, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Walden (R-OR) introduced the No Surprises Act (H.R. 3630), which would protect health care consumers from surprise billing practices. Press release: http://bit.ly/2GbAGDj
  • Also on July 9, Rep. Rush (D-IL) and 11 bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Territories Health Care Improvement Act (H.R. 3631), which would provide for a temporary increase to the limit of Medicaid payments for territories of the United States and the federal medical assistance percentage for such territories under the Medicaid program. Press release: http://bit.ly/2G69ndt Bill text: http://bit.ly/2GblQfL
  • Also on July 9, Reps. Sablan (D-NMI) and Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced the Medicaid and CHIP Territory Transparency and Information Act (H.R. 3634), which would provide for greater transparency and information with respect to the federal expenditures under the Medicaid and CHIP programs in the territories of the U.S. Press release: http://bit.ly/2GbEJPR
  • Also on July 9, Rep. Underwood (D-IL) introduced the Caring for Women Veterans Act (H.R. 3636), which would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress certain reports relating to the health care and treatment provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to women veterans. Press release: http://bit.ly/2G9jLB4
  • Also on July 9, Reps. Rush (D-IL) and McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act (H.R. 3637), which would authorize assistance for increasing workforce diversity in the professions of physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiology, and speech-language pathology. Press release: http://bit.ly/2l5wvBg
  • Also on July 9, Reps. Burgess (R-TX), Dingell (D-MI), Marchant (R-TX) and Thompson (D-CA) introduced the Independence at Home Demonstration Act of 2019 (H.R. 3644), which would extend the Independence at Home medical practice demonstration program under the Medicare program. Press release: http://bit.ly/2YPtZxL
  • Also on July 9, Reps. Higgins (D-NY) and Reed (R-NY) introduced the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act of 2019 (H.R. 3654), which would provide Medicare coverage for all physicians’ services furnished by doctors of chiropractic within the scope of their license. Press release: http://bit.ly/2Js6shd
  • Also on July 9, Sen. Young (R-IN) introduced S. 2063, which would amend the Social Security Act with respect to organ procurement organizations. Press release: http://bit.ly/2GbpNkK
  • On July 10, Reps. Brindisi (D-NY), Reed (R-NY), and Stefanik (R-NY) introduced the Access for Rural Communities Act (H.R. 3672), which would provide relief for small rural hospitals from inaccurate instructions provided by certain Medicare administrative contractors. Press release: https://bit.ly/30sltFx Bill text: https://bit.ly/2LkhLu6
  • Also on July 10, Sens. Hassan (D-NH) and Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act (S. 2074), which would increase access to medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders. Press release: https://bit.ly/2JKX0Vk
  • Also on July 10, Sens. Baldwin (D-WI), Capito (R-WV) and eight bipartisan cosponsors introduced  the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) (S. 2080), which would increase the number of permanent faculty in palliative care at accredited allopathic and osteopathic medical schools, nursing schools, social work schools, and other programs, including physician assistant education programs, to promote education and research in palliative care and hospice, and to support the development of faculty careers in academic palliative medicine. Press release: https://bit.ly/30wZWvu
  • On July 11, Sens. Manchin (D-WV) and Braun (R-IN) introduced the Opioid Labeling Accuracy Act (S. 2089), which would prohibit the labeling of certain opioid drugs recommending use for long-term chronic pain. Press release: https://bit.ly/2Junw6d Bill text: https://bit.ly/2S94AMY
  • Also on July 11, Sen. Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Turn the Tide Act (S. 2102) which would provide funding for programs and activities under the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. Press release: http://bit.ly/2YQnzPd Bill text: http://bit.ly/2YPSAmf
  • Also on July 11, Sens. Durbin (D-IL), Cramer (R-ND), and Smith (D-MN) introduced the Affordable Insulin Approvals Now Act (S. 2103), which would improve access to affordable insulin. Press release: http://bit.ly/2Gevpea

 ACA and Individual Markets –

  • On July 12, CMS released updated standards for self-insured non-federal governmental health plans and health insurance issuers offering group and individual health coverage using the HHS-administered Federal External Review Process. Guidance: https://go.cms.gov/2lcziZr

Medicare and Medicaid –

  • On July 9, HHS announced plans for a Quality Summit, which will bring together key industry stakeholders and government leaders to discuss how current quality programs administered by HHS can be further evaluated, adapted and streamlined to deliver better outcomes. Fact sheet: http://bit.ly/2YJhpAd
  • Also on July 9, HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) released two reports related to hospice, finding that hospice deficiencies post risks to Medicare beneficiaries and highlighting safeguards that should be strengthened to protect Medicare hospice beneficiaries from harm. Resource page: http://bit.ly/2YRZtn1  Summaries with links to reports: http://bit.ly/2YQNR3L and http://bit.ly/2YSGLMa
  • On July 11, CMS released a proposed rule that would remove the regulatory text that sets forth the current required process for states to document whether Medicaid payments in fee-for-service systems are sufficient to enlist enough providers to assure beneficiary access to covered care and services. Comments are due 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. Press release: https://go.cms.gov/2YJjpbH Proposed rule: http://bit.ly/2YKkU9w
  • Also on July 11, CMS released an informational bulletin announcing a new strategy to measure and monitor beneficiary access to care in Medicaid. Bulletin: http://bit.ly/2YNUJyP
  • Also on July 11, HHS presented ten states with the 2019 Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project Quality Performance Awards, which recognize the highest reporting rates and levels of improvement in Critical Access Hospitals over the last year. Press release: http://bit.ly/2YX8onr
  • Also on July 11, CMS released a proposed rule updating the Home Health Prospective Payment System Rates for Calendar Year 2020. Comments are due 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. Press release: https://go.cms.gov/2YRqvLs Proposed rule: http://bit.ly/2YPkbDV
  • Also on July 11, CMS released the 2017 Physician Compare data, finding that 97.6 percent of clinicians who participated in MIPS in 2017 received a positive payment adjustment. Press release: https://go.cms.gov/2lcAvjr

 New Payment and Delivery System Models –

  • On July 10, CMS announced the new proposed Radiation Oncology model, which aims to improve the quality of care for cancer patients receiving radiotherapy treatment and to reduce provider burden. Fact sheet: https://go.cms.gov/2YS7hVS New Model: http://bit.ly/2YOmMOH
  • Also on July 10, President Trump signed an Executive Order to launch the Advancing American Kidney Health initiative. As part of the initiative, CMS announced five new payment models and a proposed rule that would allow two of the new payment models to mandate participation. HHS also released a report outlining other initiatives underway at a number of other HHS agencies to implement the goals of the Advancing American Kidney Health initiative. Comments on the Proposed Rule are due 60 days from publication in the Federal Register.
  • On July 11, HHS, the American Society of Nephrology, and the National Kidney Foundation announced a new prize competition that seeks to identify ideas and solutions patients and care partners have developed to improve their daily life with kidney disease. Press release: http://bit.ly/2YPoyyO

 Drug and Medical Device Prices and Regulation –

  • On July 8, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down the Administration’s final rule that requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to include the list price of certain drugs in their direct-to-consumer advertising. Decision: http://bit.ly/2Gd3tan Senate Finance Committee Chair Grassley (R-IA) statement: http://bit.ly/2Go1OPB
  • On July 11, the Trump Administration announced that it would withdraw from OMB review a proposed rule that would have largely eliminated the use of prescription drug rebates in public health insurance programs. Senate Finance Committee Chair Grassley statement: http://bit.ly/2GbF2dm
  • On July 12, Sens. Brown (D-OH) and Stabenow (D-MI) led a group of nine Senators in a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chair Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Wyden (D-OR), urging them to give the Secretary the authority to negotiate drug prices in Medicare. Press release with link to: http://bit.ly/2lan7fG

Mental Health and Substance Use –

  • On July 8, HHS released two reports on psychosocial supports in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), one on recent evidence and current findings and another on site visit findings and conclusions. Fact sheet: http://bit.ly/2YVUOAI  Reports: http://bit.ly/2YTjfia and http://bit.ly/2YSwT54
  • On July 10, HHS OIG released a report on opioid use in Medicare Part D, finding that nearly three-in-ten beneficiaries received opioids in 2018, a significant decrease from the previous two years. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2G7J2vl
  • On July 12, HHS released a report on how substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder, affect noncustodial parents’ labor market experience, the establishment of child support orders, noncustodial parents’ ability to pay formal child support, and current practices used to increase child support compliance and substance use treatment among this population. Summary with link to report:  http://bit.ly/2Gc30W0

 Health IT –

  • On July 10, the Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved a proposal for a $100 million fund to use telehealth to reach low-income Americans, particularly in rural areas. Proposal: http://bit.ly/2l4CFl9

 Misc. –

  • On July 10, HHS released an evaluation of the Support and Services at Home (SASH) program in Vermont, which provides support services and care coordination to older adults and individuals with disabilities. Fact sheet: http://bit.ly/2YUa7JZ Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2YWe3Kg