What’s Ahead: This Week

Congressional Schedule

Both Chambers are now in recess for the Thanksgiving holiday and will be back in session starting on Tuesday, November 29.

Notable Policy Events

  • Monday, November 21
    • eHealth Initiative, Webinar, “Re-Imagining Care Delivery: The Power of Technology.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2f9biRe
  • Tuesday, November 22
    • Bloomberg Government, Webinar, “What to Watch in the Lame Duck and Beyond.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2g8ZtvO

Weekly Wrap Up: Notable Health Care Developments From Last Week

Legislative Activity

  • On November 14, the House passed by voice vote a number of health-related bills, including the “National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act” (H.R. 1192), which amends the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) to establish a National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission; the “Improving Access to Maternity Care Act” (H.R. 1209), which amends the PHSA to designate maternity care health professional shortage areas; the “Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2015” (H.R. 2713), which amends the PHSA to include clinical nurse leaders as advanced education nurses; and the “Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2016” (H.R. 4365), which clarifies that emergency medical services professional are permitted to administer controlled substances when certain conditions are met. These bills now move to the Senate for consideration. Press release: http://bit.ly/2f9ifln
  • On November 16, Sens. Vitter (R-IA) and Klobucher (D-MN) introduced the “Steve Gleason Act of 2016,” a bipartisan bill that revises title XVIII of the Social Security Act to allow patients diagnosed with diseases such as ALS to have permanent access to speech generating devices through Medicare. Press release: http://bit.ly/2f9k2qN
  • Also on November 16, the Senate unanimously passed the “First Responder Anthrax Preparedness Act” (S. 1925), which directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to make anthrax vaccines available to emergency response providers. The bill now moves to the House for consideration. Press release: http://bit.ly/2f9fReo
  • On November 17, Reps. Griffith (R-VA) and Lance (R-NJ), and Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health Pitts (R-PA) introduced a bill that would prevent the Administration from using the Justice Department’s Judgment Fund to settle any lawsuit arising over the ACA’s risk programs (H.R. 6339). The bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. On November 18, Sens. Sasse (R-NW), Rubio (R-FL), Barasso (R-WY), and Lee (R-UT) introduced a similar bill, the “HHS Slush Fund Elimination Act” (S. 3481). The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rep. Griffith’s press release: http://bit.ly/2g3pU28 Sasse’s press release: http://bit.ly/2fNgpF8

ACA Implementation

On November 16, CMS released the first biweekly enrollment snapshot for the current open enrollment period; in the first two weeks, 1,008,218 consumers selected a plan, including 246,433 new consumers. Press release: http://go.cms.gov/2f92wmt


  • On November 14, CMS updated the Medicare Drug Spending Dashboard to include 2015 drug spending data; the Dashboard highlights the top 80 drugs with the highest total spending, the highest annual per user spending, or the largest increases in average cost per unit, as administered or covered through Parts B and D. Blog post: http://bit.ly/2f94CCB Press release: http://go.cms.gov/2f93gb4 Dashboard: http://go.cms.gov/2f9hXeg
  • On November 15, CMS released a blog post highlighting its efforts to reduce improper Medicare payments. Blog post: http://bit.ly/2g3kqok
  • On November 17, CMS released a new tool intended to help clinicians automatically receive and share electronic data with CMS for the purposes of the Quality Payment Program. Press release: http://go.cms.gov/2f91NS1


  • On November 14, CMS approved a Michigan State Plan Amendment (SPA) for a Title XXI Health Services Initiative, which provides additional funding to the state to help expand lead detection and removal activities in Flint. Press release: http://go.cms.gov/2f92hYI
  • Also on November 14, CMS released a new online dashboard providing data on Medicaid spending on covered outpatient drugs; the 70 drugs highlighted on the dashboard represented 41% of Medicaid covered outpatient drug spending in 2015. Blog post: http://bit.ly/2f94CCB Press release: http://go.cms.gov/2f91Ihj Dashboard: http://go.cms.gov/2f9j5hT
  • Also on November 14, CMS released an Interim Final Rule (IFR) for Medicaid Covered Outpatient Drugs; the IFR delays the reporting requirements under the Covered Outpatient Drug program for U.S. territories from April 1, 2017 until April 1, 2020. IFR: http://bit.ly/2f978sO
  • Also on November 14, CMS released a funding opportunity announcement for $4 million in funding to enroll and retain uninsured American Indian and Alaska Native children who are eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Press release: http://bit.ly/2f9c28V
  • On November 18, CMS released a proposed rule limiting the use of new or increased pass-through payments in Medicaid managed care delivery systems. Comments are due by December 22. Proposed rule: http://bit.ly/2g3hoQO

New Payment and Delivery System Models

On November 15, CMS released an updated list of participating payers and regions for the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus model. List: http://bit.ly/2f8ZLSb

Health IT

On November 15, President’s Cancer Panel released a report to the President on improving cancer-related outcomes using connected health. Report: http://bit.ly/2g3kk00

Opioid and Substance Abuse

  • On November 15, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a summary of a forum it convened on strategies to prevent illicit drug use. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2g8Q2wg
  • On November 16, HHS announced additional steps to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to begin taking the required training to prescribe the opioid use disorder treatment, buprenorphine. Press release: http://bit.ly/2f9c1Su
  • On November 17, Surgeon General released a report on alcohol and drug misuse and severe substance use disorders, highlighting prevention, treatment, and health systems integration recommendations. Press release: http://bit.ly/2f8Ytqi Report: http://bit.ly/2f91CpO

Zika Virus

  • On November 16, CDC released updated Zika data, indicating that there are now 4,255 and 32,068 cases of the virus in the states and territories, respectively. Data: http://bit.ly/2cddcRi
  • On November 17, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new mouse model that may help in assessing the efficacy of Zika virus vaccines and therapeutics. Press release: http://bit.ly/2f98u6N
  • On November 18, World Health Organization declared that the Zika virus is no longer a global public health emergency. Press release: http://bit.ly/2g8PR4e


On November 14, National Institutes of Health released several articles in the Journal of Infectious Diseases examining the use of big data for infectious disease surveillance. Press release: http://bit.ly/2g3gq71

  • Also on November 14, HHS released a blog post highlighting programs across HHS that provide people with stable living conditions in order to positively impact their health. Blog post: http://bit.ly/2g8SN0y
  • On November 15, HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation released a report on the first year of the White House Rural Council/HHS Rural IMPACT demonstration, finding that more tailored technical assistance to individual sites may improve the demonstration’s effectiveness. Report: http://bit.ly/2g8T6c0
  • On November 17, HHS Office of the Inspector General released a list of the top 10 management and performance challenges facing HHS. List: http://bit.ly/2f9dxUG
  • Also on November 17, GAO released a report finding that FDA and some states collect data on the number of entities that compound drugs, but not the volume of compounded drugs, which may impact limit the effect of oversight. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2g8TJSV
  • Also on November 17, GAO released a report finding that more information on best practices could help states’ improve their verification systems for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2g8W7cc
  • On November 18, FDA released a document containing responses to frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2012. FAQ: http://bit.ly/2g3pads