What’s Ahead: This Week


  • Wednesday, February 15
    • Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, “Mental Health Care: Examining Treatments and Services.”
  • Thursday, February 16
    • Senate Finance Committee, “Hearing to Consider the Nomination of Seema Verma to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”
    • House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, “H.R. 372, the ‘Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017’.”

Notable Policy Events

  • Monday, February 13
    • HHS, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, “Webinar Meeting of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2030.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2llGEsu
  • Tuesday, February 14
  • Wednesday, February 15
    • S. Chamber of Commerce, “Health Means Business National Summit.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2llvRhM
    • KPMG Center for Healthcare Regulatory Insight, “Interoperability: The Unfinished Health IT Agenda.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2kAw8t0

Weekly Wrap Up: Notable Health Care Developments From Last Week

HHS Leadership

On February 10, the Senate approved by a vote of 52-47 Rep. Price’s nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Legislative Activity

  • On February 6, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Provider Payment Sunshine Act (S.308), which would require drug companies and medical device makers to publicly disclose their payments to nurse practitioners and physician assistants for promotional talks, consulting, and other interactions. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lssMJF
  • Also on February 6, Senate Judiciary Chair Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Cardin (D-MD) introduced the Community Based Independence for Seniors Act (S.309), which would establish a new Community-based Institutional Special Needs Plan demonstration program to target home and community-based care to eligible Medicare beneficiaries. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lsqDO7 Bill text: http://bit.ly/2lsjQE2
  • Also on February 6, Senate Aging Committee Chair Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act (S. 311), which would expand training and support services for families and caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lsdlB7
  • Also on February 6, Rep. Lieu (D-CA) and five cosponsors introduced the Disclosure, and Encouragement of Verification, Innovation, Cleaning, and Efficiency (DEVICE) Act of 2017 (H.R. 872), which would require device manufacturers to notify the FDA when changing the design or cleaning instructions of their devices. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lsf6hP
  • Also on February 6, Reps. Biggs (R-AZ), Fitzpatick (R-PA) and 26 cosponsors introduced the Right to Try Act of 2017 (H.R. 878), which would authorize the use of unapproved medical products by patients diagnosed with a terminal illness. Sen. Johnson (R-WI) previously introduced a companion bill in the Senate (S.204) Press release: http://bit.ly/2lsemJz
  • On February 7, House Committee on Energy & Commerce, Subcommittee on Health, approved the Close Annuity Loopholes in Medicaid (CALM) Act (H.R. 181) by a vote of 19-13, and the Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable Over Lottery Winners Act of 2017 (H.R. 829) by a vote of 20-11. Both bills now move to the full Committee for consideration. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lsoeTx
  • Also on February 7, Rep. Cartwright (D-PA) and 11 cosponsors introduced the Expedited Hiring for VA Trained Psychiatrists Act (H.R. 901), which would improve the authority of the Secretary of the Veterans Affairs to hire psychiatrists. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lsYIRq
  • Also on February 7, Reps. Coffman (R-CO) Kilmer (D-WA), and 12 bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act (H.R. 918), which would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to furnish mental health care to certain former members of the Armed Forces. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lt1hD6
  • Also on February 7, Reps. Joyce (R-OH) and 6 bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 959), which would extend advanced education nursing grants to support clinical nurse specialist programs. Press release: http://bit.ly/2kewlBv
  • Also on February 7, Rep. Turner (R-OH) and 7 cosponsors introduced the Reforming and Expanding Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act (H.R. 982), which would allow for payment to states for substance abuse services furnished to inmates in public institutions. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lsY7Px
  • On February 9, Sens. Franken (D-MN), Reed (D-RI) and Brown (D-OH) introduced the Prescription Drug and Health Improvement Act (S. 348), which would require the Secretary of HHS to negotiate lower covered Part D drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lsAzKB

ACA Repeal

On February 8, House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Pallone (D-NJ), Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Neal (D-MA), Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Scott (D-VA), and Budget Committee Ranking Member Yarmuth (D-KY) sent a letter to the Acting Secretaries of the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury asking for additional information about the implications of implementing President Trump’s executive order directing federal agencies to minimize the economic burden of the ACA. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lsjHQU Letter: http://bit.ly/2lsauZ2


On February 6, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released the second in a series of three reports on report on Medicare market shares of mail order diabetes test strips. OIG found that during the period from July through September 2016, the top strip type accounted for 43 percent of the mail-order market, while the top 10 strip types accounted for 98 percent. Summary and link to report: http://bit.ly/2ln45ye


  • On February 6, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report finding that available Medicaid expenditure and utilization data do not provide CMS with sufficient information to consistently ensure that payments are proper or that beneficiaries have access to covered services. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2kjaJVh
  • Also on February 6, GAO released a report finding that although HHS has taken steps to support states’ efforts to identify the mental health needs and treatments of, and oversight of the use of psychotropic medications by, children in foster care, additional federal assistance is needed. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2lhigI9
  • On February 8, GAO released a report recommending that CMS improve its oversight of the data states use to set payment rates for long-term services and supports in Medicaid Managed Care. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2kYhcZ0


  • On February 6, Senate Aging Committee Chair Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) led a letter cosigned by 10 bipartisan Senators to President Trump calling for greater investment in Alzheimer’s research. Press release with text of letter: http://bit.ly/2llVJKk
  • On February 7, Reps. Upton (R-MI) and DeGette (D-CO) wrote a letter to White House Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Sandy requesting clarification about whether President Trump’s January 23 Executive Order imposing a federal hiring freeze applies to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Letter: http://bit.ly/2llPM06
  • Also on February 7, National Institutes of Health (NIH) began the first of four projects designed to be the potential last steps between testing artificial pancreas systems and requesting regulatory approval for permanent use by individuals with Type 1 diabetes. Press Release: http://bit.ly/2lk2dVZ
  • Also on February 7, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released survey data on long-term trends in health insurance coverage from 1968-2015, estimating that in 2015, 65.5% of Americans were covered through private insurance, 20.6% were covered by Medicaid, 2.6% were covered by Medicare, and 10.6% were uninsured. Data: http://bit.ly/2lp4vaB
  • Also on February 7, HHS released a report on out-of-pocket expenditures, finding that on average, adults with multiple chronic conditions had double the out-of-pocket expenditures as adults with no or one chronic condition. Report: http://bit.ly/2lw7Kdh
  • On February 10, House Committee on Energy & Commerce Chair Walden (R-OR), and Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigation’s Chair Murphy (R-PA) wrote a letter to Acting HHS Secretary Cochran requesting information on HHS’ efforts to identify administrative waste and a “clear path” to achieve significant budget savings in the next five years. Press release: http://bit.ly/2kAvv2L Letter: http://bit.ly/2kAzgFv