What’s Ahead: This Week

Hearings/Markups –

  • Monday, June 12
    • House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, “FY 2018 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill.”
  • Tuesday, June 13
    • Senate HELP Committee, “The Cost of Prescription Drugs: How the Drug Delivery System Affects What Patients Pay.”
    • House Rules Committee, “H.R. 1215: Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017.”
  • Wednesday, June 14
    • House Energy & Commerce Committee, Health Subcommittee, “Examining the Extension of Safety Net Health Programs.”
    • Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, “Fiscal Year 2018 Budget for Veterans’ Program and Fiscal Year 2019 Advance Appropriations Requests.”
  • Thursday, June 15
    • Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, “Hearing to Review the FY2018 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”

 Notable Policy Events –

  • Monday, June 12
    • Commonwealth Fund, “2018 Health Insurance Marketplaces – What States, Insurers, and Consumers Should Expect.” Additional information: http://conta.cc/2s0NF25
  • Tuesday, June 13
    • Alliance for Connected Care, “Real World Evidence of Telemedicine Success: A Conversation with Leading CEOs.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2s0NqUP
    • Politico, “Medicaid as a Driver of Care Innovation in the States.” Additional information: http://politi.co/2sHf894
    • The Hill, “Prioritizing Patients: A Discussion on Outcomes-Based Care.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2sKjWdZ
  • Wednesday, June 14
    • Brookings Institution, “Fostering Competition in the Pharmaceutical Distribution Chain.” Additional information: http://brook.gs/2sHctMs
  • Thursday, June 15
    • Healthcare Leadership Council, “HIPAA 101.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2sKOpZf
    • Bloomberg Law, “Affordable Care Act Repeal and Replace: Now What?” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2s0I5gp

 Weekly Wrap Up: Notable Health Care Developments From Last Week

 Legislative Activity –

  • On June 6, the Senate passed by a voice vote the Veterans Affairs (VA) Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act (S. 1094), which would improve the accountability of employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill now moves to the House for consideration. Press release: http://bit.ly/2scKFCY
  • Also on June 6, Reps. Taylor (R-VA) and Takano (D-CA) introduced the VA Senior Accountability (VA SEA) Act (H.R. 2772), which would provide for requirements relating to reassignment of Department of Veterans Affairs senior executive employees. Press release: http://bit.ly/2sKTYXL
  • Also on June 6, Reps. Denham (R-CA) and Valdao (R-CA) introduced the Assessing Critical Care Efforts to Strengthen Services (ACCESS Act) (H.R. 2779), which would provide through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) for a Medicaid payment model demonstration project on Medicaid reimbursement for physicians’ services in counties with a disproportionately high proportion of Medicaid enrollees. Press release: http://bit.ly/2sL42Ql
  • Also on June 6, Reps. Higgins (R-LA), LaMalfa (R-CA), and Reed (R-NY) introduced the Veterans Emergency Room Relief Act of 2017 (H.R. 2785), which would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay for care provided to Veterans in urgent care centers. Sen. Cassidy (R-LA) previously introduced companion legislation in the Senate (S. 1261). Press release: http://bit.ly/2sL69DL
  • On June 7, the House Energy & Commerce Committee advanced by a vote of 54-0 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2430), which would reauthorize FDA’s user fee programs. The Committee also advanced three other health-related bills: the Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 1222), the Sickle Cell Disease Research, Surveillance, Prevention and Treatment Act of 2017 (H.R. 2410), and the Medical Controlled Substances Transportation Act of 2017 (H.R. 1492). The bills now move to the full House for consideration. Press releases: http://bit.ly/2sH1iUg and http://bit.ly/2sHhnsT
  • Also on June 7, Sens. Peters (D-MI) and Capito (R-WV) introduced the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act (S. 1299), which would reduce the occurrence of diabetes in Medicare beneficiaries by extending coverage under Medicare for medical nutrition therapy services to such beneficiaries with pre-diabetes or with risk factors for develop type 2 diabetes. Press release: http://bit.ly/2smu7YI
  • On June 8, Sen. Brown (D-OH) introduced the Community Care Core Competency Act (S. 1319), which would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a continuing medical education program for non-Department of Veterans Affairs medical professionals who treat veterans to increase knowledge and recognition of medical conditions common to veterans. Press release: http://bit.ly/2sLdT8S
  • Also on June 8, Reps. DeGette (D-CO) and Kennedy (D-MA) introduced the Medicaid and CHIP Quality Improvement Act (H.R. 2843), which would establish a comprehensive and nationwide system to evaluate the quality of care provided to beneficiaries of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and to provide incentives for voluntary quality improvement. Sen. Brown (D-OH) introduced a companion bill in the Senate (S. 1317). Press release: http://bit.ly/2s0oEnD Bill text: http://bit.ly/2s0ErmJ
  • Also on June 8, Rep. Noem (R-SD) introduced the Supporting Families in Substance Abuse Treatment Act (H.R. 2857), which would support foster care maintenance payments for children with parents in a licensed residential family-based treatment facility for substance abuse. Press release: http://bit.ly/2sbWU2w
  • On June 9, Sens. Tester (D-MT), Moran (R-KS), McCaskill (D-MO), Kaine (D-VA), Hassan (D-NH) and Crapo (R-ID) introduced the Better Workforce for Veterans Act (S. 1325), which will improve the authorities of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire, recruit, and train employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Press release: http://bit.ly/2sTUhPS
  • Also on June 9, Senate Judiciary Chair Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017 (S. 1327), which would amend the Controlled Substances Act to clarify how controlled substance analogues are to be regulated. Press release: http://bit.ly/2sTV0AG

 ACA Repeal and Replacement Activity –

  • On June 7, Sens. Feinstein (D-CA), Leahy (D-VT), Warren (D-MA), Baldwin (R-WI), Harris (D-CA) and Hassan (D-NH) introduced S. 1307, which would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand eligibility to receive refundable tax credits for coverage under a qualified health plan. The bill would cap the proportion of monthly income consumers of any income level are expected to pay for premiums at 9.69 percent, rather than cutting off subsidies at 400 percent of the federal poverty level, as under current law. Press release: http://bit.ly/2s8L4WS

 ACA Implementation –

  • On June 5, CMS released an updated list of HIPAA opt-out elections for self-funded, non-federal governmental health plans. List: http://go.cms.gov/2scsdKK
  • On June 8, CMS issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking recommendations and input from the public on how to create a more flexible, streamlined approach to the regulatory structure of the individual and small group markets. Press release: http://go.cms.gov/2smXp9L
  • Also on June 8, Sen. Johnson (R-WI) and 13 Senators sent a letter to HHS Secretary Price urging HHS to reverse a regulation that limits consumers’ ability to purchase short-term, limited duration insurance plans. Press release: http://bit.ly/2sLn5dq Letter: http://bit.ly/2sL2RAF
  • On June 9, CMS released an updated bulletin announcing that it intends to continue a network breadth pilot for reporting information on the relative size of qualified health plan (QHP) provider networks on Healthcare.gov for the upcoming 2018 open enrollment period. Bulletin: http://go.cms.gov/2scoz3g
  • Also on June 9, CMS released a bulletin announcing that CMS will continue a pilot during the 2018 open enrollment period that displays Quality Rating System (QRS) star ratings and QHP Enrollee Experience Survey results on Healthcare.gov. Bulletin: http://go.cms.gov/2scMaAK

Medicare –

  • On June 5, CMS issued proposed revisions to arbitration agreement requirements for long-term care facilities, which are intended to strengthen transparency in the arbitration process and reduce burden. Comments are due by August 7. Press release: http://go.cms.gov/2scqzc2 Proposed rule: http://bit.ly/2sczx8Y
  • On June 8, Senate Judiciary Chair Grassley (R-IA) announced that he had received a commitment from HHS Secretary Price to work on implementation of an extension of a Medicare payment designation program that is critical to small, often rural hospitals. Press release: http://bit.ly/2sLnVXN

 Medicaid –

  • On June 5, CMS released an informational bulletin providing updates to the 2017 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Spousal Impoverishment Standards. Bulletin: http://bit.ly/2scxEcf
  • On June 7, CMS released an informational bulletin highlighting strategies to streamline transitions for Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries who newly qualify for Medicare. Bulletin: http://bit.ly/2scoug3

 New Payment and Delivery System Reform Models –

  • On June 9, CMS posted the final evaluation report for the multi-payer advanced primary care practice demonstration. Report: http://bit.ly/2smGCDJ

 Health IT –

  • On June 6, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced the winners of the Privacy Policy Snapshot Challenge. Winners created Model Privacy Notice (MPN) generators that produce a customizable MPN for health information technology developers, making it easier for consumers to see a products privacy and security policies. Press release: http://bit.ly/2qT77MV
  • On June 8, Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Connect2Health Task Force released an update to its Mapping Broadband Health in America map. Press release: http://bit.ly/2s0qXra Map: http://fcc.us/2s0TiO2
  • On June 9, HHS released a checklist and infographic highlighting actions health care entities can take in response to a cybersecurity incident. Checklist and infographic: http://bit.ly/2r3M5vf and http://bit.ly/2rJPtyf

 Veterans Health –

  • On June 5, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Shulkin announced his decision to move towards a commercial off-the-shelf product for the VA’s next-generation electronic health records system. Press release: http://bit.ly/2qQ3yHs
  • Also on June 5, VA Office of the Inspector General released a report reviewing an investigation into alleged mismanagement of the VA’s personal identity verification process. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2s0UssS
  • On June 6, VA announced the launch of the Physician Ambassador Program, an effort to recruit volunteer medical providers, at the more than 1,700 VA health care facilities across the nation. Press release: http://bit.ly/2s5r86C
  • Also on June 6, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to VA Secretary Shulkin pressing for accurate information on appointment wait times for Iowa veterans after agency officials appeared to provide misleading information about lengthy waits. Press release with text of letter: http://bit.ly/2sKX51L

 Drug Prices –

  • On June 9, House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Pallone (D-NJ) led all Democratic members of the Committee in a letter to Chair Walden (R-OR), requesting that the Committee hold hearings to examine the rising costs of prescription drugs and work in a bipartisan fashion to address the issue. Press release: http://bit.ly/2sL6gPE Letter: http://bit.ly/2sLpCUP

 Mental Health and Substance Abuse –

  • On June 8, FDA announced that it had requested that a pharmaceutical manufacturer remove its opioid pain medication from the market, citing concern that the benefits of the drug may no longer outweigh the risks. Press release: http://bit.ly/2s0sBZS
  • On June 8, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the award up to $13.4 million in grants to 11 federally recognized Tribes and Tribal Organizations in the US for planning and developing infrastructure to improve mental health and wellness. Press release: http://bit.ly/2t39iOw
  • On June 9, SAMHSA announced the award of up to $34.4 million over four years to improve treatment for youth with substance use disorders and/or co-occurring substance use and mental disorders. Press release: http://bit.ly/2scNX9l

 Misc. –

  • On June 5, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray released a memo and sent a letter to Senate colleagues highlighting concerns with two HHS appointees and reiterating the need for Senate Democrats to “stay vigilant in their oversight of the Trump Administration as it attempts to undermine women’s health.” Press release: http://bit.ly/2sGKeh1 Letter: http://bit.ly/2sH8eRf Memo: http://bit.ly/2sHrgqO
  • Also on June 5, National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the launch of its All of Us research program, and has begun enrolling the first cohort of participants for the Precision Medicine Initiative. Blog post: http://bit.ly/2rQx6b9
  • Also on June 5, HHS announced that is has officially changed the name of AIDS.gov to HIV.gov. Press release: http://bit.ly/2qTQsJl
  • On June 6, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) published a report on high-deductible health plans and financial barriers to medical care. Report: http://bit.ly/2r3pOgS
  • On June 7, FDA published a final rule announcing that it is amending regulations to reflect changes recently enacted into law by the 21st Century Cures Act, specifically requirements related to humanitarian device exemptions and institutional review boards for devices. Notice: http://bit.ly/2rejdQ9
  • On June 8, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published its analysis of data from US territories on the Zika virus, finding serious birth defects in about 1 in 12 fetuses or infants of pregnant women with Zika infection in the first trimester. Press release: http://bit.ly/2s3FJiH
  • Also on June 8, NIH announced the launch of the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, which will direct $210 million this year to early and mid-career scientists to help more young scientists get their careers off the ground. Press release: http://bit.ly/2rQTAqJ
  • On June 9, FDA published a notice of its determination that it is necessary for manufacturers of certain reusable medical devices to include in their premarket notifications instructions for use which have been validated and validation data regarding cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization, for which substantial equivalence determination may be based. Notice: http://bit.ly/2sc2UYU