What’s Ahead: This Week


Hearings/Markups –

  • Tuesday, April 4
    • Senate HELP Committee, “FDA User Fee Agreements: Improving Medical Product Regulation and Innovation for Patients, Part II.”
    • House Energy & Commerce Committee, “Cybersecurity in the Health Care Sector: Strengthening Public-Private Partnerships.”
    • House Veterans Affairs Committee, “An Assessment of Ongoing Concerns at the Veterans Crisis Line.”
    • House Rules Committee, “H.R. 1304 – Self-Insurance Protection Act.”
  • Wednesday, April 5
    • Senate HELP Committee, “Nomination of Scott Gottlieb, MD, to serve as Commissioner of Food and Drugs.”
    • House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, “Federal Responses to the Opioid Crisis.”


Notable Health Care Policy Events –

  • Monday, April 3
    • Alliance for Health Reform and the Commonwealth Fund, “Medicaid Moving Forward.” Additional information: http://conta.cc/2o3A3DM
  • Tuesday, April 4
    • Alliance for Health Reform, “What’s Next for Health Policy?” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2ojEGKw
    • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “Rising Drug Costs: Where Do We Go from Here?” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2o0WUQ2
  • Tuesday, April 4 – Wednesday, April 5
    • National Quality Forum, “Annual Conference: Accelerating the National Agenda for Quality and Value.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2o3GUwQ
  • Wednesday, April 5
  • Thursday, April 6
    • S. Chamber of Commerce, “Innovations in Workplace and Community Wellness: A New Era.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2o3HZVv
    • Institute for Patient Access and the Biologics Prescribers Collaborative, “2nd Annual National Policy & Advocacy Summit on Biologics and Biosimilars.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2o3oGvO
  • Thursday, April 6 – Friday, April 7
    • Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), “April Public Meeting.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2o0F2EO
  • Friday, April 7
    • Alliance for Health Reform, “Coverage in an Evolving Market – the Future of Health Insurance.” Additional information: http://bit.ly/2o0OO9Q


Weekly Wrap Up: Notable Health Care Developments From Last Week


Federal Budget – On March 30, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report examining the 2017 long-term budget outlook, finding that federal spending for healthcare is expected to grow faster than the economy over the next three decades and that by 2047, Medicare and Medicaid/CHIP spending will increase to 6 percent and 3 percent of GDP, respectively. Report: http://bit.ly/2nnwLHj


Administration –

  • On March 27, President Trump released an Executive Order establishing a new White House Office of American Innovation, which will be charged with making recommendations to the President on policies and plans that improve government operations and services, improve the quality of life for Americans now and in the future, and spur job creation. Executive Order: http://bit.ly/2nNpG6s
  • On March 29, President Trump released a second Executive Order establishing a Commission on Combatting Opioid Abuse, Addiction and Overdose, which is charged with studying the scope and effectiveness of the federal response to drug addiction and the opioid crisis and to make recommendations to the President for improving that response. Executive Order: http://bit.ly/2oC8Ch0


Legislative Activity –

  • On March 28, Rep. Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced the Veterans Early Treatment for Chronic Ailment Resurgence through Examinations (VET CARE) Act (H.R. 1749), which would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a pilot program for the provision of dental care to certain veterans. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nNvixI
  • On March 29, Sen. Franken (D-MN) and 15 cosponsors introduced the Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act (S. 771), which would require drug cost reporting from drug manufacturers, allow Medicare to negotiate prices in Part D, and provide incentives to spur innovation. Reps. Shakowsky (D-IL), Welch (D-VT), Cummings (D-MD) and DeLauro (D-CT) introduced a companion bill in the House (H.R. 1776). Press release: http://bit.ly/2ojOVP2 Summary: http://bit.ly/2ojzLcy
  • Also on March 29, Reps. Lance (R-NJ), Higgins (D-NY) and 40 bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Cancer Drug Parity Act (H.R. 1409), which would require health insurance plans that cover traditional chemotherapy to provide no less favorable coverage for prescribed, orally-administered anticancer medications. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nNqcBy
  • On March 30, Sens. Portman (R-OH) and Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act (S. 778), which would require the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and facilitate information sharing among states. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nEkSOO
  • Also on March 30, Sens. Baldwin (D-WI) and Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the (S. 783), which would distribute maternity care professionals to health professional shortage areas identified as in need of maternity care health services. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nEtMvz
  • Also on March 30, Sens. Gardner (R-CO) and Peters (D-MI) introduced the Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act (S. 787), which would require the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to test the effect of including telehealth services in Medicare health care delivery reform models. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nEy7yM
  • Also on March 30, Rep. Wittman (R-VA) introduced the Veterans Choice Accountability Act (H.R. 1797), which would improve the provision of health care by the Department of Veterans Affairs by expanding Veteran access to non-VA medical care and establishing a review of the VA’s implementation of the Veteran’s Choice Program. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nEkLmg
  • Also on March 30, Rep. Connolly (D-VA) introduced the Medicaid Expansion Incentive Act (H.R. 1826), which would redistribute federal funds that would otherwise be made available to states that do not provide for the Medicaid expansion in accordance with the ACA to those states electing to provide those Medicaid benefits. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nEnZpU Bill text: http://bit.ly/2nEG47q
  • Also on March 30, Reps. McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Sewall (D-AL) introduced the Cancer Care Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 1834), which would establish a national Oncology Medical Home Demonstration project under the Medicare program for the purpose of changing the Medicare payment for cancer care in order to enhance the quality of care and to improve cost efficiency. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nEsNvn
  • Also on March 30, Rep. Smucker (R-PA) introduced the Seniors Health Care Choice Act of 2017 (H.R. 1845), which would facilitate the transition to Medicare for individuals enrolled in group health plans. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nEpTXJ
  • On March 31, Sen. McCain (R-AZ) introduced the Veterans Overmedication Prevention Act (S. 788), which would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct an independent review of the deaths of certain veterans by suicide or from a drug overdose. Press release: http://bit.ly/2ot9ecT


ACA Repeal and Replace Activity and Legislation –

  • On March 28, House Minority Leader Pelosi sent a Dear Colleague letter to House Democrats requesting that members send ideas and specific suggestions to strengthen the ACA, to be discussed during a Leaders meeting the next day. Letter: http://bit.ly/2nN8Gxh
  • On March 29, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray (D-WA), Sen. Cantwell (D-WA) and 42 other Democratic Senators sent a letter to President Trump, urging him and his administration to abandon their efforts to repeal the ACA and further disrupt the U.S. health care system. Press release with text of letter: http://bit.ly/2nNmPud
  • Also on March 29, Senate HELP Committee Chair Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Corker (R-TN) introduced the Health Care Options Act of 2017 (S. 761), which would allow Americans who live in counties in which there are no health insurance options on the ACA exchanges to use their subsidy to purchase any health insurance plan outside of the exchanges. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nNfsTT Summary: http://bit.ly/2nNlROK
  • On March 30, House Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to President Trump urging the Administration to meet its responsibility to continue to implement and uphold the ACA, and to work to lower health care costs for consumers, including by addressing the soaring cost of prescription drugs. Press release: http://bit.ly/2o0JOT0 Letter: http://bit.ly/2o0Jzr2


ACA Implementation –

On March 31, CMS released an Interim Summary Report on Risk Adjustment for the 2016 benefit year. Report: http://go.cms.gov/2ot85C0


Medicare –

  • On March 29, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY), Senate Finance Committee Chair Hatch (R-UT) and 12 Republican Finance Committee members sent a letter to CMS Administrator Verma noting positive policy changes pertaining to the Medicare Advantage program and outlining a number of additional preferred policy modifications that would promote beneficiary access to the popular program. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nNejLS Letter: http://bit.ly/2nNk24r
  • On March 31, CMS released a proposed rule that would delay the effective date for a final rule implementing conditions of participation for home health agencies from July 13, 2017 to January 13, 2018. Comments are due by June 3. Proposed rule: http://bit.ly/2o0JZNV


Medicaid –

  • On March 29, Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) published an issue brief estimating when states may expect to deplete their current allotments of federal CHIP funds. CHIP funding is only provided through FY 2017, under current law. Brief: http://bit.ly/2nnkPoY
  • On March 30, CMS issued a final rule that stated uncompensated care costs “include only those costs for Medicaid-eligible individuals that remain after accounting for payments made to hospitals by or on behalf of Medicaid-eligible individuals including Medicare and other third party payment that compensate the hospitals for care.” Final rule: http://bit.ly/2nE3U3e
  • Also on March 30, Kansas Governor Brownback vetoed a bill that would have expanded Medicaid and made Kansas the 32nd expansion state. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nEisj6


New Payment and Delivery Models –

  • On March 28, CMS released a document outlining target prices for hospitals participating in the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model with fewer than 20 hip and knee replacement episodes in the baseline period. On March 31, CMS also released a list of approved skilled nursing facilities (SNF) for the second quarter of 2017. Regional Target Pricing Document: http://bit.ly/2nnAIeW SNF list: http://bit.ly/2o0QQaa
  • On March 31, CMS released several demonstration model reports, including a final evaluation report and 3-day SNF waiver final evaluation report for the Pioneer ACO Model; a final evaluation report for the Advance Payment ACO Model; and the second annual report for the BPCI Retrospective Acute Care Hospital Stay Only model.


Behavioral Health –

  • On March 28, Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Ranking Member McCaskill (D-MO) announced a new investigation into the sales and marketing practices of the top five opioid producers by 2015 sales to assess whether pharmaceutical manufacturers have contributed to opioid overutilization and overprescription. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nNlALH
  • Also on March 28, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a new guide providing stakeholders with approaches for effectively transitioning people with mental or substance use disorders from institutional correctional settings into the community. Press release: http://bit.ly/2o7PoUg
  • On March 30, SAMHSA released a new report that found adults who experienced a mental illness in the past year were more likely to smoke cigarettes than adults who have not. Press release: http://bit.ly/2no9SEe


Misc. –

  • On March 27, National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced 10 semifinalists in the first phase of a competition to develop prototypes of diagnostics to improve detection of drug resistant bacteria. Press release: http://bit.ly/2nF4KhZ
  • On March 31, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report reviewing an auditing of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute’s financial statements for fiscal year 2016, finding no significant issues requiring attention. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2o0QVKU
  • Also on March 31, GAO released a companion document to an already released report on state pharmacy regulation and drug compounding. Summary with link to report: http://bit.ly/2o115ev
  • Also on March 31, NIH released its annual Report to the Nation on the Statue of Cancer, which finds death rates during the period 2010-2014 decreased for 11 of the 16 most common types of cancer in men and for 13 of the 18 most common types of cancer in women. Press release: http://bit.ly/2ot56cR Report: http://bit.ly/2otaCMm





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