What’s Ahead: This Week

Hearings and Markups –

  • Wednesday, September 18
    • House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, “Critical Impact: How Barriers to Hiring at VA Affect Patient Care and Access.”
  • Thursday, September 19
    • House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, “VA Contracted Exams/Quality Review/Service to Rural Veterans.”
    • House Energy & Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce, “Profits over Consumers: Exposing How Pharmaceutical Companies Game the System.”

 Notable Policy Events –

  • Monday, September 16
    • American Enterprise Institute (AEI), “If We Cannot Live with the Individual Mandate, Can We Cover Enough Lives Without It?” More information: https://bit.ly/2kkKHGu
  • Thursday, September 19
    • National Academy of Sciences, “Models for Population Health Improvement by Health Care Systems and Partners: Tensions and Promise on the Path Upstream.” More information: https://bit.ly/2lV5PU0

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

Legislative Activity –

  • On September 9, Rep. Torres Small (D-MN) and five cosponsors introduced the Rural Maternal an Obstetric Modernization of Services Act (H.R. 4243) which would improve obstetric care in rural areas. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lMsZw0
  • Also on September 9, Rep. Carson (D-IN) and 16 cosponsors introduced the Rare Disease Advancement, Surveillance Research and Education Act of 2019 (H.R. 4228) which would expand and improve the programs and activities of the Department of Health and Human Services for awareness, education, research, surveillance, diagnosis and treatment concerning rare disease conditions. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lOXelF Section-by-section: http://bit.ly/2kEQGpz
  • On September 11, Rep. Underwood (D-IL) introduced the Post-9/11 Veteran Suicide Prevention Counseling Act (H.R. 4282), which would improve suicide prevention for post-9/11 veterans. Press release: http://bit.ly/2kiV5hY

 Individual Market and ACA Implementation –

  • On September 11, CMS released an updated list of approved enhanced direct enrollment (EDE) approved partners. List:  https://go.cms.gov/2SyEB0x
  • On September 12, CMS released a set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding EDE participation requirements for non-issuer users of primary EDE entity environments serving consumers in states with federally-facilitated exchanges (FFEs) and state-based exchanges on the federal platform. FAQ: https://go.cms.gov/2kuPl4R

 Medicare and Medicaid –

  • On September 12, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on efforts to identify, predict or manage high-expenditure Medicaid beneficiaries, describing best practices among seven states. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2Qcn55R
  • On September 13, CMS released an informational bulletin to remind states of the impact of the May 2019 Medicaid Provider Reassignment Final Rule. Bulletin: http://bit.ly/2QpxM5t

 Payment and Delivery System Reform –

  • On September 9, CMS released a second annual report and associated materials for the ACO Investment Model, which found that participants decreased total Medicare spending and had greater reductions in total Medicare spending than non-participating ACOs. Summary: http://bit.ly/2QeATNk Report: https://bit.ly/2lLmBFg

Drug and Medical Device Prices and Regulation –

  • On September 9, GAO released a report on ongoing efforts by FDA and drug manufacturers to facilitate access for some patients to investigational drugs. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2QadtZu
  • On September 11, Senate Finance Committee Chair Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member Wyden (D-OR), and 21 bipartisan senators sent a letter to HHS Secretary Azar and CMS Administrator Verma urging HHS to implement certain previously proposed pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) reforms in Medicare Part D. Press release: https://bit.ly/2kIe71e Letter: http://bit.ly/2AdNsxw
  • On September 13, HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report finding that rebates for brand name drugs in Part D substantially reduced the growth in spending from 2011 to 2015. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2QaxLCh

 Substance Use and Mental Health –

  • On September 10, HHS released a 2018 Report to Congress highlighting participating states’ certified community behavioral health clinic activities that have been associated with improving access to a comprehensive range of treatment and recovery support services. Report: https://bit.ly/2lL3ivN

 Health Data and IT –

  • On September 9, HHS announced its first enforcement action and settlement as part of its HIPAA Right of Access Initiative. https://bit.ly/2kBOeAh
  • On September 10, HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced two awards under the Leading Edge Acceleration Projects focused on innovative interoperability solutions. Press release: https://bit.ly/2lNLwYC

 Veterans and Military Health –

  • On September 9, VA announced that it is piloting its first collaborative health innovation center in Palo Alto as part of its efforts to advance veteran healthcare services with innovative technology. Press release: https://bit.ly/2kxEOWC
  • On September 9, VA Secretary Wilkie encouraged House Speaker Pelosi to pass bipartisan legislation on Veteran suicide prevention. Press release: https://bit.ly/2ki0E07
  • On September 10, VA announced that it has exceeded its goal to deliver 90,050 appeals decisions regarding disability benefits and services to Veterans in FY 2019. Press release: https://bit.ly/2kJM7u6

 Public Health –

  • On September 10, HHS awarded Missouri, New Mexico, and Texas nearly $9 million in total funding to launch the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) program to improve obstetrics care in rural communities. Press release: https://bit.ly/2kt7RdW
  • On September 11, HHS awarded more than $50 million to fund 77 health centers, increasing access to care for more than 400,000 new patients. Press release: https://bit.ly/2m5IChZ
  • Also on September 11, HHS announced a preliminary plan to prohibit the sale of unauthorized, non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products. The FDA plans to share their finalized compliance policy in the coming weeks. Press release: https://bit.ly/2kj9hYi
  • On September 12, HHS announced $374 million in funding to programs supporting maternal and child health. Press release: https://bit.ly/2ker5DT
  • Also on September 12, HHS released the 2018 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, which provides a comprehensive overview of healthcare quality in the U.S. population. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2Q9AoUO
  • Also on September 12, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data finding that in 2018, nine states reported an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35 percent. Press release: http://bit.ly/2Aie1lk

 Misc. –

  • On September 10, CMS Administrator Verma addressed members of the American Hospital Association at the Regional Policy Board Meeting in Washington, D.C., in which she discussed the move to value-based care, regulatory relief, and price and quality transparency. Press release: https://go.cms.gov/2kH7YCD
  • Also on September 10, CDC released health coverage estimates in 2018, finding that 8.5 percent of Americans were uninsured last year, compared with 7.9 percent in 2017. Report: http://bit.ly/2AodU7P
  • On September 10, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Pallone, (D-NJ) and Ways & Means Committee Chair Neal (D-MA) released a statement urging CMS to appeal approving the sale of Hahnemann University Hospital’s medical resident training program in Philadelphia, PA for $55 million. Press release: https://bit.ly/2lP5130
  • On September 13, U.S. Department of Transportation announced the formation and membership of the Air Ambulance and Patient Billing Advisory Committee. Press release: http://bit.ly/2AkyXZ1