What’s Ahead: This Week


  • Wednesday, March 15
    • House Budget Committee, “Markup on Reconciliation Bill.”
    • House Committee on Ways & Means, Subcommittee on Human Resources, “Hearing on the Reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program.”
    • Senate Special Committee on Aging, “Grandparents to the Rescue: Raising Grandchildren in the Opioid Crisis and Beyond.”

Notable Healthcare Policy Events

  • Monday, March 13
    • HHS, “Meeting of the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2mn4L9v
    • Healthcare Leadership Council, “What Does the Independent Payment Advisory Board Mean to Medicare Beneficiaries?” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2ntByHv
  • Tuesday, March 14 – Wednesday, March 15
    • Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the Chamber of Digital Commerce, “Health Standards and Data Innovation Code-a-Thon.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2mn9oQz
  • Wednesday, March 15
  • Thursday, March 16
  • Friday, March 17
    • RAND Corporation, “Repeal, Replace, Repair, or Improve? The Future if the Affordable Care Act.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2mn69sq

Weekly Wrap Up: Notable Health Care Developments From Last Week

Administration – On March 9, Senate approved by a vote of 54-44  to file cloture on the nomination of Seema Verma to be Administrator of CMS; a final vote on her nomination is expected on Monday, March 13. Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s Press release: http://bit.ly/2mXxO4i

Legislative Activity

  • On March 6, Sens. Brown (D-OH), Wicker (R-MS), Cardin (D-MD) and Collins (R-ME) introduced the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act (S. 479), which would waive coinsurance under Medicare for colorectal cancer screening tests, regardless of whether therapeutic intervention is required during the screening. Press release: http://bit.ly/2mnos0z
  • Also on March 6, Sen. Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Medicaid Accountability and Care (MAC) Act of 2017 (S. 520), which would reform federal payment to states under the Medicaid program by instituting per capita caps. Press release: http://bit.ly/2mnifSh Bill text: http://bit.ly/2mnjvoR
  • Also on March 6, Sen. Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Vet Connect Act of 2017 (S. 530), which would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to disclose to non-VA health care providers certain medical records of veterans who receive healthcare from such providers. Rep. O’Rourke (D-TX) introduced a companion bill in the House (H.R. 1371). Press release: http://bit.ly/2ng2A4T
  • On March 7, Sen. Tester (D-MT) and 11 bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act (S. 544), which would modify the termination date for the Veterans Choice program. Press release: http://bit.ly/2mbNOMC
  • Also on March 7, Rep. Griffith (R-VA) introduced the Requiring Individual Responsibility in Medicaid Act of 2017 (H.R. 1381), which would impose an individual responsibility requirement for nondisabled, nonelderly, nonpregnant individuals made eligible for medical assistance. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lM1i5G Bill text: http://bit.ly/2lM44rh
  • On March 8, Sens. Manchin (D-WV) and Capito (R-WV) introduced Jessie’s Law (S. 581), which would include information concerning a patient’s opioid addiction in certain medical records. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lM6Ddb
  • Also on March 8, Sens. Brown (D-OH), Collins (R-ME), Nelson (D-FL) and Capito (R-WV) introduced the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act (S.568), which would count a period of receipt of outpatient observation services in a hospital toward satisfying the three-day inpatient hospital requirement for coverage of skilled nursing facility services under Medicare. Reps. Courtney (D-CT) and Thompson (R-PA) introduced a companion bill in the House (H.R. 1421) Press releases: http://bit.ly/2ng4kuX and http://bit.ly/2lM8uib
  • Also on March 8, Rep. Carbajal (D-CA) introduced the Strengthening Preventive Health Care for Service Members Act (H.R. 1433), which would expand preventive health care services under the TRICARE program. Press release: http://bit.ly/2lLSOLE Bill text: http://bit.ly/2lLWixH

ACA Repeal and Replace

  • On March 6, Sens. Portman (R-OH), Capito (R-WV), Murkowski (R-AK), and Gardner (R-CO) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader McConnell outlining their concerns that the February 10th draft House GOP health care plan does not adequately protect individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or provide necessary flexibility for states. Press release with text of letter: http://bit.ly/2ng8XoZ
  • Also on March 6, House Committees on Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means each released legislative text, which combined form the House GOP’s American Health Care Act. The legislation would establish Medicaid per capita caps, repeal Medicaid expansion, provide age-adjusted tax credits for the purchase of health coverage, and grant $100 billion over nine years to states for market stabilization programs, among other provisions. On March 9, both Committees on Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means approved the legislation by votes of 31-23 and 23-16, respectively. The legislation now moves to the House Budget Committee for Consideration.
  • Also on March 6, House Committee on Energy & Commerce released a report detailing the committee’s ACA oversight efforts from 2010 through present, noting that the committee has convened 31 oversight hearings with 107 witnesses testifying. Press release: http://bit.ly/2mnbXCs Report: http://bit.ly/2mn59om
  • On March 7, House Speaker Ryan (R-WI) released a letter written from HHS Secretary Price to the House Committees on Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce Chairs Brady (R-TX) and Walden (R-OR) praising the Republican plan to repeal and replace the ACA. Press release: http://bit.ly/2ng9JSX Letter: http://bit.ly/2ng5tmk
  • Also on March 7, House Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to House Speaker Ryan (R-WI) calling for the release of a full, final report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) explaining the impact of the American Health Care Act on families and the budget before committees mark up the legislation. Press release with text of letter: http://bit.ly/2mn6jzY
  • Also on March 7, the JCT released a set of estimates of revenue losses under the House GOP’s American Health Care Act, projecting that based on review of 11 of the 18 tax-related provisions, the bill would cost $266 billion over ten years. Estimates (JCX-16-17): http://bit.ly/2ngfKyV
  • On March 8, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Wyden (D-OR) released a letter dated January 10, 2017 from former CMS Acting Administrator Slavitt detailing that the repeal of the additional 0.9 percent payroll tax on high-income earners will reduce the solvency of the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund by three years. Press release: http://bit.ly/2mn60oS Letter: http://bit.ly/2mnaRqb
  • On March 9, Sen. Paul (R-KY) reintroduced the Obamacare Replacement Act (S.554), which would repeal the ACA’s individual and employer mandates and market rules, and would expand the use of HSAs, create Independent Health Pools and Association Health Plans, and would allow for the sale of insurance across state lines. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nku4qa Bill text: http://bit.ly/2nkJ9Id
  • On March 8, House Committee on Education and the Workforce advanced three bills, the Small Business Health Fairness Act (H.R. 1101), which was passed by a vote of 22-17; the Self-Insurance Protection Act (H.R. 1304) which was passed by a voice vote; and the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1313) which was passed by a vote of 22-17. The bills now move to the full House for consideration. Press release: http://bit.ly/2mXkDjO


On March 9, HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report finding that payments made to providers for hospital outpatient dental services by six Medicare contractors generally did not comply with Medicare requirements, resulting in an estimated $9.8 million in improper payments. Report: http://bit.ly/2mJvc9K


On March 10, HHS Secretary Price issued a statement committing HHS to using its regulatory authority to create greater flexibility in the Medicaid program for states. Press release and statement: http://bit.ly/2mbpmuQ

New Payment and Delivery Models

  • On March 6, CMS published eight annual reports covering year three of the Health Care Innovation Awards – a grant program that implements projects aimed at improving care and lowering costs for people in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP. CMS also posted its second annual meta-analysis evaluation report on the program. Link to reports: http://bit.ly/1TanDlS
  • Also on March 6, CMS published the final report for year four of its initiative to reduce avoidable hospitalizations among nursing facility residents, which seeks to support organizations that partner with long-term care facilities to implement evidence-based clinical and educational interventions. Report: http://bit.ly/2nehVUC

Health IT

On March 8, GAO released a request for letters of nomination and resumes for appointments made by the Comptroller General to the Health Information Technology Advisory Committee, established by the 21st Century Cures Act. Letters of nomination and resumes are due by April 14. Notice: http://bit.ly/2mXoxcy

Substance Abuse and Mental Health

On March 6, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published a blog post highlighting how behavioral health has been reported to have the greatest impact on overall health. Blog post: http://bit.ly/2n7OOW0

Misc. in Healthcare

  • On March 6, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray and seven Democratic Senators sent a letter to the Chairman and CEO of Marathon Pharmaceuticals requesting information on the initial proposed pricing scheme for a recently approved steroid. Press release: http://bit.ly/2ng06U5 Letter: http://bit.ly/2nfYoCg
  • On March 6, HHS published a request for supplemental evidence and data submissions to inform their review of the effects of dietary sodium and potassium intake on chronic disease outcomes. The submission deadline is April 5. Request: http://bit.ly/2ne66hb
  • On March 7, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on preliminary observations on veterans’ access to the Veterans Choice Program, finding that veterans could potentially wait up to 81 calendar days to attend their first appointments. Report: http://bit.ly/2mtQ7gk
  • On March 7, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued its final recommendation statement on screening for gynecologic conditions with pelvic examination. Statement: http://bit.ly/2lLBXZz
  • On March 8, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on utilization of clinical preventive services for cancer and heart disease among insured adults in 2015, finding that the majority of insured adults aged 50-74 were screened for cancer and the percentage of insured adults who had a cardiovascular risk screening increased with age. Report: http://bit.ly/2mboPcf




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