What’s Ahead: This Week

Hearings/Markups –

  • Tuesday, May 16
    • Senate Finance Committee, “Examining Bipartisan Medicare Policies that Improve Care for Patients with Chronic Conditions.”
  • Wednesday May 17
    • Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, “Pending Health and Benefits Legislation.”
    • House Appropriations Committee, “House of Representatives: Fiscal 2018 Budget.”
    • House Energy & Commerce Committee, “Examining Initiatives to Advance Public Health.”
  • Thursday, May 18
    • House Ways & Means Committee, Subcommittee on Health, “Current Status of the Medicare Program, Payment Systems, and Extenders.”

 Notable Policy Events –

  • Monday, May 15
  • Tuesday, May 16
    • Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, “Breakfast Briefing: Avik Roy to Unveil Paper on Distortions in the U.S. Prescription Drug Market.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2pzLC7p
    • Telehealth Capitol Connection, “Telehealth and the ABCs of Keeping Kids Covered.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2fwLVHX
  • Thursday, May 18
    • Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “Cybersecurity of Medical Devices: A Regulatory Science Gap Analysis.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2ppDoP9
  • Friday, May 19
    • National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM), “Prioritizing Super Spenders: Coverage and Care for High-Need Patients.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2qBJqwn

 Weekly Wrap Up: Notable Health Care Developments From Last Week

 Nominations –

  • On May 9, the Senate voted 57 to 42 to confirm Dr. Scott Gottlieb as the Commissioner of the FDA. Statement from HHS Secretary Price: http://bit.ly/2q6kOdL
  • On May 10, President Trump nominated five members to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis: Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) to be Chair, and Governor Roy Cooper (D-NC), Governor Charlie Baker (R-MA), Former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), and Dr. Bertha Madras. Press release: http://bit.ly/2ppGnqG

 Legislative Activity –

  • On May 8, Rep. Issa (R-CA) introduced H.R. 2400, which would allow individuals who are not Federal employees to enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
  • Also on May 8, Sens. Peters (D-MI) and Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Childhood Outcomes Need New Efficient Community Teams (CONNECT) Act (S. 1067), which would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award competitive grants to enhance collaboration between state child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Press release: http://bit.ly/2r4G0hM
  • Also on May 9, Sens. Manchin (D-WV), Capito (R-WV), McCaskill (R-MO) and King (I-ME) introduced S. 1078, which would establish procedures regarding the approval of opioid drugs by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • On May 11, Senate HELP Committee advanced by a vote of 21-2 the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S. 934), which would revise and extend the user-fee programs for prescription drugs, medical devices, generic drugs, and biosimilar biological products. The Committee approved several amendments to the legislation, including provisions that would encourage greater generic drug development, expand patient access to experimental treatments, and allow for over-the-counter access to some hearing aids. The Committee also advanced the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act of 2017 (S. 1028), which would establish a National Family Caregiving Strategy. The bills now move to the full Senate for consideration. Press release: http://bit.ly/2ppHGWI
  • Also on May 11, Sen. Rubio (R-FL) and 9 bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 (S. 1094), which would improve the accountability of employees of the VA. Sen. Rubio press release: http://bit.ly/2qjUivz VA Secretary Shulkin press release: http://bit.ly/2qjRI8S
  • Also on May 11, Sens. Merkley (D-OR), Burr (R-NC), Baldwin (D-WI) and Collins (R-ME) introduced the National Nurse Act of 2017 (S. 1109), which would extend advanced education nursing grants to support clinical nurse specialist programs. Press release: http://bit.ly/2qjT837

 ACA Repeal and Replacement –

  • On May 8, 13 Democratic Senators wrote a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mulvaney, Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin, and HHS Secretary Price requesting that the administration commit to making cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments that would help to ensure the viability of the healthcare system. Press release with text of the letter: http://bit.ly/2qU4WMu
  • On May 9, all 48 Democratic and Independent Senators wrote a letter urging Republican leaders to drop current repeal efforts and work in a bipartisan way to reform and improve the ACA. Press release with text of the letter: http://bit.ly/2q3Xeyx
  • On May 10, Sen. Baldwin (D-WI) and 13 Democratic Senators sent a letter to President Trump urging him to make clear his Administration’s position on making CSR payments to issuers. Press release: http://bit.ly/2ppI1se Letter: http://bit.ly/2ppuoJX

 ACA Implementation –

  • On May 11, CMS released a checklist for states for pursuing section 1332 state innovation waiver applications, which includes specific guidance related to establishing high-risk pools or state-operated reinsurance programs. Guidance: http://go.cms.gov/2r9lI7s

 Medicare –

  • On May 8, CMS released a new tool to help clinicians determine their Merit-based Incentives Payment System (MIPS) participation status. Tool: http://bit.ly/2ppJXB1

 Medicaid/CHIP –

  • On May 9, CMS announced a three-year extension for state Medicaid programs to meet the Home and Community Based Services settings requirements for care settings in operation before March 17, 2014; states now have until March 17, 2022 to demonstrate compliance. Press release: http://go.cms.gov/2pCVMQA Informational Bulletin: http://bit.ly/2ppv2qR
  • On May 11, the National Governors Association sent a letter to Senate Finance Chair Hatch (R-UT), Ranking Member Wyden (D-OR), House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Pallone (D-NJ) recommending ­Congress act quickly to provide a five-year extension of funding for the CHIP program at the current enhanced match rate. Letter: http://bit.ly/2qk84P2

 New Payment and Delivery System Models –

  • On May 12, CMS released slides from a May 3 public forum on its Radiation Therapy Alternative Payment Model. Slides: http://bit.ly/2qBsCp3

 Health IT –

  • On May 8, HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released a blog post describing how nurses can use comprehensive shared care plans to improve care for patients. Blog post: http://bit.ly/2qjSZgc

 Veterans Health –

  • On May 9, VA announced it is adopting the American Cancer Society breast cancer screening guidelines, which give women a choice to begin screening at age 40. Press release: http://bit.ly/2r4iLo6
  • On May 10, VA and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) announced a collaborative agreement with Walgreens to help improve mental health care for veterans through enhanced education, access to resources, and outreach. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pBDr5F
  • Also on May 10, National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a study finding that U.S. military service members who endured a mild concussion after blast injury while deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan may continue to experience mental health symptoms as well as decreases in quality of life for at least five years after their injury. Press release: http://bit.ly/2r0mzq6
  • On May 11, VA announced a six-week extension of the strategic review of its Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. Press release: http://bit.ly/2q9twpF
  • On May 12, VA Secretary Shulkin announced the establishment of a new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the VA, as required by President Trump’s April 27 Executive Order. Press release: http://bit.ly/2qjVn6E

 Drug Prices –

  • On May 8, Sens. Franken (D-MN) and Cassidy (R-LA) led a group of 10 bipartisan Senators in a letter to Senate HELP Committee Chair Alexander (R-TN) requesting a hearing on drug spending in the US. A day later, Chair Alexander responded, agreeing to schedule a hearing “in the near future.” Press release: http://bit.ly/2ppJYFm Letters: http://bit.ly/2ppuYr4 and http://bit.ly/2ppEsT0

 Mental Health and Substance Abuse –

  • On May 9, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Walden (R-OR), Ranking Member Pallone (D-NJ), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Murphy (R-PA), Ranking Member DeGette (D-CO), and Rep. McKinley (R-WV) sent a series of letters to drug distributors and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) following recent reports of unusually high amounts of opioids being distributed in the state of West Virginia. Press release: http://bit.ly/2qwJUUs Letters: http://bit.ly/2q6ANZn
  • Also on May 9, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Johnson (R-WI) and Ranking Member McCaskill (D-MO) sent a letter to DEA Acting Administrator Rosenburg requesting information regarding anti-diversion investigations conducted by the agency since 2011 in the wake of the opioid crisis. Press release with text of letter: http://bit.ly/2qjR7El
  • On May 10, Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Chair Capito (R-WV) wrote a letter to OMB Director Mulvaney urging him to reconsider funding cuts to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) as the nation grapples with an opioid epidemic. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pjN9Oz Letter: http://bit.ly/2qYMF0x
  • Also on May 10, the FDA published draft revisions to a blueprint for prescriber education on extended-release or long-acting opioids. Comments are due by July 10. Notice: http://bit.ly/2r4krOb
  • On May 11, Sens. Feinstein (D-CA), Grassley (R-IA), and 11 bipartisan Senators sent a letter to OMB Director Mulvaney urging him to protect ONDCP and the programs funded by the agency in the fiscal year 2018 budget. Press release: http://bit.ly/2ppNzmz Letter: http://bit.ly/2ppJUWc
  • Also on May 11, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced it is accepting applications for up to $9.9 million for the State Pilot Grant Program for Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women created through the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). Applications are due by July 3. Press release: http://bit.ly/2ppOmEk
  • Also on May 11, SAMHSA announced it is accepting applications for up to $7.8 million in grants to promote substance use disorder recovery efforts. Applications are due by July 3. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pq3Qbe

 Misc. –

  • On May 9, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Grassley (R-IA) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Chaffetz (R-UT) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Price criticizing an internal HHS memo instructing employees to inform the agency before communicating independently with Congress. Press release: http://bit.ly/2qjJAW9 Letter: http://bit.ly/2qjLMN8
  • On May 11, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing that new Hepatitis C infections nearly tripled between 2010 and 2015. Press release: http://bit.ly/2qjL3vB Data: http://bit.ly/2qjFI7i
  • On May 15, CDC released a request for nominations of candidates to serve a members of the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF). Nomination packages are due by July 3. Notice: http://bit.ly/2qJ7Xj8