What’s Ahead: This Week

Hearings/Markups –

  • Wednesday, April 26
    • Senate HELP Committee, “S. 652, H.R. 309, S. ___, Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2017. S. 849, and the Nomination of Scott Gottlieb to serve as FDA Commissioner.”

 Notable Policy Events –

  • Monday, April 24
    • Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada Joint Regional Consultation on International Council for Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2oVCd8C
  • Monday, April 24 – Tuesday, April 25
    • HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), “Proving the Potential: A Health Data and Standards Code-A-Thon.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2oVyQi1
  • Tuesday, April 25
    • Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy and McKinsey’s Center for US Health System Reform, “State and Private Sector Innovation and the Future of US Health Care.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2pMOJ8a
    • Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), “Improving Care for Chronically Ill Medicare Patients.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2pMKEB3
  • Wednesday, April 26
    • Avalere, “Drug Pricing: Where’s the Future Headed?” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2pCnddt
  • Wednesday, April 26 – Thursday, April 27
    • National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Opportunities for Research Supported by the Special Statutory Funding Program for Type 1 Diabetes Research.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2pMMu4S
  • Thursday, April 27
    • University of DC David A. Clarke School of Law, “The Future of National Health Care: Alice Rivlin and Stuart Butler.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2pMZUxQ
  • Thursday, April 27 – Friday, April 28


Weekly Wrap Up: Notable Health Care Developments From Last Week

 ACA Implementation –

  • On April 18, CMS released guidance listing the 2018 benefit year final HHS risk adjustment model coefficients for use in rate setting for the 2018 benefit year. Guidance: http://go.cms.gov/2pMUnr4
  • On April 19, National Association of Insurance Commissioners sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY), Majority Whip Cornyn (R-TX), Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Whip Durbin (D-IL) urging them to fully fund the ACA’s cost-sharing reduction payments for fiscal year (FY) 2017 in the upcoming continuing resolution and to commit to fully funding the program for FY 2018. Letter: http://bit.ly/2q4LdFU

 Medicare –

  • On April 19, Senate Judiciary Chair Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to CMS Administrator Verma requesting information on what the agency is doing to prevent insurance company risk score gaming to achieve higher payments in Medicare Advantage. Press release: http://bit.ly/2phdZGE Letter: http://bit.ly/2pktGx6

 Medicaid –

  • On April 17, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report finding that CMS lacks a systematic approach to collecting and communicating information about state practices to reduce Medicaid improper payments. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2pCJRTo
  • On April 18, Wisconsin released documents for public comment outlining proposed changes to its current section 1115 demonstration waiver, including monthly premiums, healthy behavior incentives, a time limit on eligibility and the use of drug screening assessments for the purpose of treatment referrals. Comments are due by May 19. Waiver documents: http://bit.ly/2pCA931

 New Payment and Delivery Models –

  • On April 17, CMS announced an extension of the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program and posted a solicitation for applications to select additional hospitals to participate. Applications are due by May 17. Fact sheet: http://go.cms.gov/2pCqSYO Solicitation: http://bit.ly/2pCr6PE

 Health IT –

  • On April 20, HHS announced a $31,000 settlement with the Center for Children’s Digestive Health over potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pktcaf

 Veterans Health –

  • On April 17, VA announced the suspension of revocations initiated by VA medical centers based on eligibility for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) for three weeks for the purposes of an internal review. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pCzr5T
  • On April 18, VA announced the launch of the Center for Compassionate Innovation (CCI), which will explore emerging therapies that may enhance Veterans’ physical and mental well-being. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pCfhZT
  • On April 19, VA announced a new partnership with Veterans Ambulatory Development Corporation to construct an ambulatory care center at the current Omaha VA Medical Center Campus. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pkjwMS
  • Also on April 19, President Trump signed into law the Veterans Choice Improvement Act (S. 544), which modifies and extends the termination date for the Veterans Choice Program. Press releases from the White House and Sen. McCain: http://bit.ly/2pkqgKAand http://bit.ly/2pkzgQ5
  • On April 21, VA announced a new process currently underway to digitize older, inactive paper records, which is intended to reduce processing time for veterans’ claims and save taxpayer dollars. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pN2vYD

 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Health –

  • On April 19, HHS announced its intention to award $485 million in grants to states and territories to help combat opioid addiction; the grants will support an array of prevention, treatment, and recovery services. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pksfhZ
  • On April 20, Food and Drug Administration released updated guidance restricting the use of prescription codeine pain and cough medications and tramadol pain medicines in children and recommending against use by breastfeeding women. Guidance: http://bit.ly/2pkyani

 Misc. –

  • On April 18, Senate Judiciary Chair Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to CareFirst, requesting information about allegations the insurer charged customers more for receiving a brand name prescription drug than a generic drug, even when the branded drug was deemed medically necessary by doctors. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pCBfMh Letter: http://bit.ly/2pCJKXU
  • On April 19, HHS released a solicitation for nominations for members of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPTF). Applications are due by June 15. Solicitation: http://bit.ly/2pkpZHy
  • On April 21, House Committee on Energy & Commerce Chair Walden (R-OR) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Murphy (R-PA) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Price requesting information about the status of the department’s Pandemic Influenza Plan. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pMOYjS Letter: http://bit.ly/2pMG0TD