What’s Ahead: This Week

Recess –

  • The House is in recess this week, returning on May 16. The Senate is in session.

 Hearings/Markups –

  • Wednesday, May 10
    • Senate HELP Committee, Mark up of the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act (S. 1028); and the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act (S. 934).
    • Senate Special Committee on Aging, “Aging with Community: Building Connections that Last a Lifetime.”
    • Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, “Examining the Veterans Choice Program and the Future of Care in the Community.”

 Notable Policy Events –

  • Sunday, May 7 – Wednesday, May 10
  • Monday, May 8
  • Thursday, May 11
    • Intel, “Tech + Policy @ Intel: Harnessing the Power of Precision Medicine Through the 21st Century Cures Act.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2p5U6im

 Weekly Wrap Up: Notable Health Care Developments From Last Week

  ACA Repeal and Replacement –

  • On May 4, the House passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) (H.R. 1628) by a 217-213 vote. The bill gained momentum in the House after Rep. Upton (R-MI) introduced an amendment adding $8 billion in state funding over five years to help cover costs for people with pre-existing conditions. The House also unanimously voted to pass H.R. 2192, which would eliminate AHCA exemptions for Members of Congress and their staff. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. Senate leaders have indicated they may craft their own legislation rather than use the House version. White House press release: http://bit.ly/2p2WKJy Statements by HHS Secretary Price and CMS Administrator Verma: http://bit.ly/2qHiISg and http://go.cms.gov/2pbrJmP

 FY 2017 Appropriations –

  • On May 3, the House passed the FY 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill by a vote of 309-118. The Senate passed the bill a day later – on May 4 – by a vote of 79-18. The bill includes $73.5 billion for HHS, an increase of $2.8 billion above last year’s enacted level and $3.8 billion above the Obama Administration’s budget request. Press releases: http://bit.ly/2pB6Znm and http://bit.ly/2qz9swG

 Nominations –

  • On May 4, President Trump announced that the nomination of Matthew Bassett as HHS Assistant Secretary of Legislation. Press release: http://bit.ly/2q8oPzn

 Legislative Activity –

  • On April 28, Reps. Brooks (R-IN), Demings (D-FL), Collins (R-GA), Pascrell (D-NJ), and Reichert (R-WA) introduced the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 (H.R. 2228), which would provide support for law enforcement agency efforts to protect the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers. Press release: http://bit.ly/2oYeDoQ
  • Also on April 28, Rep. Roybal-Allard along with a group of 26 bipartisan representatives introduced the Chiropractic Care for Veterans Act (H.R. 2251), which would require the provision of chiropractic care and services to veterans at all VA medical centers and to expand access to such care and services. Press release: http://bit.ly/2oYDoVP
  • On May 1, Rep. Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced the Medicaid and CHIP Territory Transparency and Information Act (H.R. 2263), which would provide for greater transparency and information with respect to federal expenditures under the Medicaid and CHIP programs in the U.S. territories.
  • Also on May 1, Reps. Rice (R-SC), Cartwright (D-PA), and Jenkins (R-KS) introduced the Audiology Patient Choice Act (H.R. 2276), which would provide for treatment of audiologists as physicians for purposes of furnishing audiology services under the Medicare program, to improve access to the audiology services available for coverage under the Medicare program and to enable beneficiaries to have their choice of a qualified audiologist to provide such services. Press release: http://bit.ly/2qsMH0c
  • On May 2, Rep. Roe (R-TN) and House Democratic Whip Hoyer (D-MD) introduced the School-Based Respiratory Health Management Act (H.R. 2285), which would increase the preference given, in awarding certain allergies and reversible lower airway disorders-related grants, to states that allow trained school personnel to administer rescue medications for allergies and reversible lower airway disorders. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pwL3cZ
  • Also on May 2, Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) introduced a bill that would create a standard definition of therapeutic family care services in Medicaid.
  • On May 2, Rep. Duffy (R-WI) introduced the HEART Act (H.R. 2291), which would expand the coverage of telehealth services under the Medicare program to provide coverage for home-based monitoring for congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease under such program. Press release: http://bit.ly/2p9Kl2w Bill text: http://bit.ly/2qzFZmp
  • Also on May 2, Sen. Crapo (R-ID) introduced legislation that would “modernize” Medicare payment for ambulatory surgical centers.
  • Also on May 2, Sens. Grassley (R-IA) and Casey (D-PA) introduced S. 1003, which would add standards for drug compendia for physician use for purposes of Medicaid payment for certain drugs. Press release: http://bit.ly/2qzVmeM
  • On May 3, Reps. Kelly (R-PA) and Peterson (D-MN) introduced the Faith in Health Savings Accounts Act (H.R. 2310), which would make members of health care sharing ministries eligible to establish health savings accounts. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pK6eIo
  • Also on May 3, Rep. O’Rourke (D-TX) introduced H.R. 2311, which would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to provide veterans the option of using an alternative appeals process to more quickly determine the claims for disability compensation.
  • On May 3, Rep. O’Rourke (D-TX) also introduced H.R. 2312, which would provide for covered agreements for contracts between the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and eligible academic affiliates for the mutually beneficial coordination, use, or exchange of healthcare resources.
  • Also on May 3, Reps. Lance (R-NJ) and Eshoo (D-CA) introduced the FDA Safety Over Sequestration Act (H.R. 2334), which would exempt certain user fees of the FDA from sequestration. Press release: http://bit.ly/2p5us13
  • Also on May 3, Rep. Loebsack (D-IA) introduced H.R. 2336, which would authorize a primary and behavioral health care integration grant program.
  • Also on May 3, Rep. Loebsack (D-IA) also introduced H.R. 2337, which would provide for a state Medicaid option to enhance administrative matching funds to support statewide behavioral health access program activities for children under 21 years of age.
  • Also on May 3, Rep. Schneider (D-IL) introduced H.R. 2342, which would require employees to be provided with information about the availability of special enrollment periods to obtain marketplace coverage and Medicare coverage upon termination or separation.
  • Also on May 3, Reps. Stewart (R-UT) and Johnson (D-TX) introduced the National Suicide Prevention Hotline Improvement Act (H.R. 2345), which would require the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to study the feasibility of designating a simple, easy-to-remember dialing code to be used for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system. Sens. Hatch (R-UT) and Donnelly (D-IN) introduced a companion bill in the Senate, S. 1015.  Press release: http://bit.ly/2pPsAXu
  • On May 3, Sens.  Schatz (D-HI), Wicker (R-MS), Cochran (R-MS), Cardin (D-MD), Thune (R-SD), and Warner (D-VA) introduced the CONNECT for Health Act (S. 1016), which would expand access to telehealth services. Press releases: http://bit.ly/2pKcfEV and http://bit.ly/2pJO6yU Summary: http://bit.ly/2pPq17P
  • On May 4, Rep. Lance (R-NJ) introduced H.R. 2376, which would protect and strengthen the drug supply chain in the United States by closing several statutory gaps in the penalty provisions that apply to drug diversion and counterfeiting.
  • Also on May 4, Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced H.R. 2392, which would establish direct care registered nurse-to-patient staffing ratio requirements in hospitals. Sen. Brown introduced a companion bill (S. 1063) in the Senate.
  • Also on May 4, Sens. Capito (R-WV), Manchin (D-WV), Cotton (R-AK), and Brown (D-OH) introduced the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act (S. 1044), which would ensure equal access of Medicare beneficiaries to community pharmacies in underserved areas as network pharmacies under Medicare prescription drug coverage. Press release: http://bit.ly/2qElC7F
  • Also on May 4, Sen. Murray (D-WA) introduced S. 1045, which would guarantee coverage of certain women’s preventive services under all health plans.
  • Also on May 4, Sen. Hatch (R-UT) introduced S. 1048, which would expand patient access to experimental treatments in clinical trials.
  • Also on May 4, Sens. Hassan (D-NH) and Young (R-IN) introduced the Opioid Addiction Risk Transparency Act (S. 1049), which would require that risk evaluation and mitigation strategies for certain drugs include communication plans that provide information about drug formulations or properties described in the drug labeling. Press release: http://bit.ly/2qJQ1Sa

 Medicare –

  • On May 3, CMS published guidance on HHS-operated risk adjustment data validation (HHS-RADV) pilot. Memo: http://go.cms.gov/2pidk4k
  • On May 5, the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) published a study examining CMS Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting program data, recommending that CMS use additional tools to identify gaming. Report: http://bit.ly/2qMuY0k

 Medicaid –

  • On May 1, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report examining compensation of state Medicaid Director and managed care organization (MCO) executives in select states in 2015, finding that state Medicaid Directors earned less than most top paid executives at MCOs. Report: http://bit.ly/2qJrgW5
  • On May 3, GAO published a report finding that Medicaid has spent increasing amounts on demonstration programs over the last decade and recommending that CMS develop standard operating procedures to ensure that Medicaid’s demonstration funds are consistently monitored. Report: http://bit.ly/2q8kGLU

 New Payment and Delivery Models –

 Veterans Health –

  • On May 1, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new partnership focused on the secure analysis of large digital health and genomic data from the VA and other federal sources to help advance health care for veterans. Press release: http://bit.ly/2oPGECZ

Misc. –

  • On May 1, the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) launched the Patient Matching Algorithm Challenge. Blog post: http://bit.ly/2oTS2hd
  • On May 2, NIH released a study finding that physicians in academic medical centers prescribed fewer promoted drugs and more non-promoted drugs in the same drug class, following policy changes to restrict marketing activities at those medical centers. Press release: http://bit.ly/2p5eJiK
  • On May 3, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) along with 6 Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Trump requesting more information on his decision to dismiss Dr. Murthy as U.S. Surgeon General. Dr. Murthy was scheduled to serve a 4-year term as Surgeon General ending in December 2018. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pPggsl Letter: http://bit.ly/2pIh81J
  • On May 4, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released new data showing that adolescents with common health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and obesity have higher rates of depression. Press release: http://bit.ly/2pew2ZH