Archives: Legislative Developments

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Medicare and Medicaid Drug Policy Provisions in the Obama Administration’s Proposed FY 2017 Budget

The Obama Administration’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget, released on February 9, 2016, includes a number of legislative proposals that would revise Medicare and Medicaid policies to achieve budget savings and make other program reforms.  The largest pool of Medicare savings would result from various Medicare prescription drug proposals, including the following (all savings … Continue Reading

House Energy & Commerce Committee Seeks Comments on Medicare Site-Neutral Payment Policies

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is seeking input on Section 603 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which established a site-neutral payment policy for newly-acquired, provider-based, off campus hospital outpatient departments (HOPD) after November 2, 2016.  In an open letter to the health care community, the Committee explains the origins of the policy, … Continue Reading

House Fails to Override President’s Veto of ACA Repeal Bill

On February 2, 2016, the House failed to muster the votes needed to override President Obama’s veto of H.R. 3762, the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act.”  As previously reported, the bill would have repealed key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including insurance subsidy and mandate provisions, Medicaid expansion, tax provisions, and the … Continue Reading

Committees to Examine Administration’s HHS Budget Proposal, Other Health Policy Issues Next Week

On February 9, 2016, President Obama is scheduled to submit his proposed fiscal year 2017 budget to Congress.  Two Congressional committees have planned hearings to examine provisions of the proposed budget involving the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell testifying.  Specifically, the House Ways and Means Committee has … Continue Reading

Congressional Health Policy Hearings

The Senate HELP Committee is holding a January 28, 2016 hearing on “Generic Drug User Fee Amendments: Accelerating Patient Access to Generic Drugs.”  Separately, on February 4, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has scheduled a hearing on “Developments in the Prescription Drug Market: Oversight.”  Other recent Congressional health policy hearings have included … Continue Reading

Senate HELP Committee Outlines Plans for Action on Biomedical Innovation Bills

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has announced its plans to consider companion legislation to the House-approved “21st Century Cures Act,” which is intended to improve the drug and device development processes and expedite patient access to medical treatments.  The Senate currently plans three sessions to consider components of its biomedical innovation … Continue Reading

Finance Committee Invites Suggestions on Medicare Chronic Care Policy

A bipartisan Senate Finance Committee Chronic Care Working Group is inviting comments on an options paper outlining potential ways to improve care for Medicare beneficiaries with complex chronic conditions. Options under consideration include specific proposals designed to: improve care in the home setting; expand team-based care; promote innovation in benefit design and technology; appropriately pay … Continue Reading

President Obama Signs Bill to Restrict Use of Microbeads in Cosmetics

President Obama has signed into law H.R. 1321, the “Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015.” The new law prohibits the manufacture, sale, or distribution of rinse-off cosmetics (including toothpaste) containing intentionally-added plastic microbeads to prevent the microbeads from getting into waterways. The act also preempts state law with respect to the manufacture or introduction or delivery … Continue Reading

President Obama Vetoes Bill to Repeal Major ACA Provisions

As expected, on January 8, 2016, President Obama vetoed legislation that would have repealed key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including insurance subsidy and mandate provisions, Medicaid expansion, tax provisions, and the transitional reinsurance program.  The bill, H.R. 3762, the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act,” was approved by the House of Representatives on … Continue Reading

Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act Signed Into Law; Includes Additional Medicare Reforms

On December 28, 2015, President Obama signed into law S. 2425, the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act, which includes a number of Medicare provisions that were not included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Most significantly, the law: Extends the timeframe for eligible professionals and hospitals to apply for a hardship exception from meaningful use … Continue Reading

Senate Passes Rural ACO Legislation

On December 17, 2015, the Senate approved S. 2261, the Rural ACO Provider Equity Act of 2015. This legislation would modify how beneficiaries are assigned under the Medicare shared savings program by considering services furnished by federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics. The policy would apply to performance years beginning on or after … Continue Reading

Congressional Leaders Announce Spending/Tax Deal with Medicare and ACA Provisions; House Approves Tax Package

On December 15, 2015, Congressional leaders released sweeping spending and tax proposals, including a number of provisions impacting Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The legislation is being considered on a fast track; the House approved the tax component of the package today, and it is scheduled to vote on the appropriations bill tomorrow, with … Continue Reading

Improving Access to Emergency Psychiatric Care Act Signed into Law

On December 11, 2015, President Obama signed into law S. 599, the Improving Access to Emergency Psychiatric Care Act. The law extends the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration Project for those state selected to participate as of March 13, 2012 if it would not increase net Medicaid spending. The law also permits the … Continue Reading

Senate Votes for Budget Reconciliation Bill Repealing Key ACA Provisions

The Senate has approved an amended version of a budget reconciliation bill (H.R. 3762) that would repeal key provisions of the ACA.  As approved by the Senate on December 3, 2015, the legislation would repeal ACA insurance subsidy and mandate provision, the transitional reinsurance program, and various tax provisions and make a variety of other … Continue Reading

Recent Congressional Hearings on Health Policy Issues

A number of recent Congressional hearings have focused on health policy issues, including the following: A Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing titled “Sudden Price Spikes in Off-Patent Drugs: Perspectives from the Front Lines.”  A Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee hearing on “Opioid Abuse in America: Facing the Epidemic and Examining Solutions.” A … Continue Reading

Congress Clears CAH Direct Supervision Legislation

On December 8, 2015, the House of Representatives approved S. 1461, which would provide a one-year extension (through 2015) of the enforcement moratorium on supervision requirements for outpatient therapeutic services in critical access hospitals (CAH) and small rural hospitals.  The legislation, which was passed by the Senate in September, now is awaiting the President’s signature.… Continue Reading

Energy and Commerce Committee Approves Medicaid, Public Health Bills

On November 18, 2015, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved several public health policy bills. Two approved bills pertain to the Medicaid program: HR 3716, the Ensuring Terminated Providers Are Removed from Medicaid and CHIP Act – to implement several HHS OIG recommendations to improve CMS oversight of terminated providers and state screening of … Continue Reading

Congress Clears Controlled Substances Act Scheduling Legislation

On November 16, 2015, the House of Representatives approved HR 639, the Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act, clearing it for the President.  The legislation would amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to make procedural changes intended to improve the efficiency, transparency, and consistency of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) process for scheduling … Continue Reading

Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Advances Mental Health, Medicaid, Synthetic Drug Legislation

On November 4, 2015, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee approved the following health policy bills: HR 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act – includes a series of reforms intended to improve federal mental health research, screening, and treatment programs, some of which have met with strong opposition from House Democrats. … Continue Reading

Upcoming Health Policy Hearings

Several Congressional hearings are scheduled next week and into December on health policy issues, including: A November 17 Senate Finance Committee hearing entitled “Physician Owned Distributors: Are They Harmful to Patients and Payers?” A November 17 House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform hearing on “The State of Competition in the Pharmacy Benefit Manager and Pharmacy … Continue Reading

Bipartisan Budget Law Extends Medicare Sequestration, Includes Medicaid Drug Rebate, Off-Campus Hospital Outpatient Department, CMP Inflation Policies

On November 2, 2015, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1314, the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” (BBA).  The two-year, $80 billion budget/debt-ceiling deal is funded in part by several significant Medicare and Medicaid policies, including an extension of Medicare sequestration, changes to Medicare payment for services provided in “new” off-campus hospital outpatient departments (OPDs), … Continue Reading
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