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House Approves 21st Century Cures Act

On July 10, 2015, the House of Representatives passed on a 344-77 vote the 21st Century Cures Act, H.R. 6, legislation intended to improve the drug and device development processes and expedite patient access to medical treatments. A blog post highlighting key drug and device development provisions of the bill is available on our Life … Continue Reading

July Congressional Committee Hearings on Health Policy Issues

Congressional committees continue to hold hearings on various health policy topics, including the following:  A Senate Finance Committee hearing today focused on “Reviewing HealthCare.gov Controls.” The House Energy and Commerce Committee held hearings entitled “Medicare Part D: Measures Needed to Strengthen Program Integrity” and “Medicaid at 50: Strengthening and Sustaining the Program.” The Senate Special … Continue Reading

Revised House 21st Century Cures Bill Released Ahead of House Vote

Later this week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider the H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act.  Ahead of the House vote, the House Rules Committee released a revised version of the bill with new funding offsets and other policy changes.  Notably changes in the newest version include: A provision excluding authorized generics … Continue Reading

Congressional Panels to Review Small Business Health Care, Medicaid Program Status

Two Congressional hearings are scheduled this week on health policy issues: On July 7, 2015, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has scheduled a hearing on “Small Business Health Care Challenges and Opportunities”; and On July 8, the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee will focus on “Medicaid at 50: Strengthening and Sustaining the … Continue Reading

Congressional Health Policy Hearings

A House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight hearing recently reviewed the effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on health insurance premiums.  In addition, a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing examined the Obama Administration’s approval of Medicaid demonstration projects.   The Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee also reviewed three bipartisan bills that aim to … Continue Reading

House Passes Bills to Repeal ACA Medical Device Tax and IPAB, Revise Medicare Advantage Policy

The House of Representatives has taken action on a number of bills to modify certain Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions, revise Medicare Advantage policies, and make other health policy changes. On June 23, 2015, the House voted to approve H.R. 1190, a bill to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), by a vote of 244 to … Continue Reading

House Panel to Review Bipartisan Bills to Improve Health Care for Infants/Children

On June 25, 2015, the Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee will review three bipartisan bills that aim to improve health care for newborns, infants, and children. Specifically, members will discuss: H.R. 2820, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act, to reauthorize programs that promote bone marrow, adult stem cell, and cord blood donations, match donors … Continue Reading

House Rejects Contentious Trade Bill that Was Vehicle for Extension of Medicare Sequestration

As previously reported, Congress has been considering financing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) reauthorization legislation in part through future Medicare provider cuts. Specifically, as approved by the Senate on May 22, 2015, H.R. 1314 would apply a 0.25% across-the-board cut, known as sequestration, to Medicare provider and plan payments during the second half of FY 2024, … Continue Reading

Ways and Means Committee Approves Health Policy Bills, Including Repeal of ACA Medical Device Tax & IPAB, and Medicare Advantage/LTCH Policy Changes

On June 2, 2015, the House Ways and Means Committee approved ten health policy bills, including legislation to repeal the ACA’s medical device tax and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Other measures would make a series of changes to Medicare Advantage (MA) requirements and Medicare long-term care hospital (LTCH) policy. Specifically, the Committee approved the … Continue Reading

Senate Finance Committee Approves Medicare Appeals Reform Proposal

On June 3, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee approved by voice vote a bipartisan proposal to reform the Medicare audit and appeals process in an attempt to help ease the backlog of Medicare appeals and promote efficiency and transparency. The draft proposal, the “Audit & Appeal Fairness, Integrity, and Reforms in Medicare Act of 2015,” would, … Continue Reading

Congressional Health Policy Hearings

A number of Congressional panels have held hearings this month on health policy issues, including the following: A House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Affordable Care Act implementation and the FY 2016 HHS budget request; A Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on “Health Information Exchange: A Path Towards Improving the … Continue Reading

21st Century Cures Bill Includes Proposal to Broaden Sunshine Act Exclusions Related to Education

As we reported last week, on May 21, 2015, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 6, the “21st Century Cures Act,” by a bipartisan, unanimous 51-0 vote. This major legislation is intended to accelerate the pace of medical cures in the United States through a variety of reforms addressing drug and device development … Continue Reading

House Energy and Commerce Committee Unanimously Approves 21st Century Cures Bill

Today the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 6, the “21st Century Cures Act,” by a bipartisan, unanimous 51-0 vote. This major legislation is intended to accelerate the pace of medical cures in the United States through a variety of reforms addressing drug and device development and approval, clinical trial design, research funding, interoperability … Continue Reading

Congress Passes Budget Resolution Conference Report with ACA, Medicare Provisions

On May 5, 2015, the Senate approved the conference report to accompany S.Con.Res. 11, the concurrent resolution setting forth the federal budget for FY 2016 and establishing budgetary target levels for FYs 2017 through 2025, following earlier House approval. The conference agreement, which was approved on largely party-line votes, includes nonbinding language supporting Affordable Care … Continue Reading

Action Continues on 21st Century Cures Act; Hearings on Medicare Competition, ACA Implementation, Opioid Abuse

Later today, the full House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to begin markup of the 21st Century Cures Act, following Health Subcommittee approval on May 14. Votes are expected tomorrow (markup was subsequently delayed until May 21).  Also today, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health is holding a hearing on "Improving Competition in Medicare: … Continue Reading

Upcoming 21st Century Cures Markup, Hearings on Medicare Chronic Care, Competition

Tomorrow the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee is scheduled to mark up the 21st Century Cures Act; the Subcommittee has posted a substitute amendment that will be considered by the panel.  Also tomorrow, the Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on improving care for Medicare patients with chronic conditions. Looking ahead to next … Continue Reading

Pending Trade Legislation Would Extend Medicare Sequestration

The House and Senate are considering trade legislation that would be financed in part by $700 million from extended Medicare sequestration authority – much to the consternation of the health care provider community. By way of background, under the “Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014” (PAMA), Congress “front-loaded” the Medicare reimbursement cuts under the … Continue Reading

Congressional Health Policy Hearings

Congressional committees have held a number of hearings recently on health policy issues, include the following A House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on “Medicare Post-Acute Care Delivery and Options to Improve It.”  A Senate Commerce Committee hearing on “Advancing Telehealth Through Connectivity.” A Senate Finance Committee hearing on the impact of the ACA … Continue Reading

House Approves “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act”

On April 21, 2015, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 471, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015. The bipartisan legislation would clarify the Controlled Substances Act to establish consistent enforcement standards intended to protect against diversion while promoting patient access to medically-necessary controlled substances. … Continue Reading

President Obama Signs MACRA: Permanently Reforms Medicare Physician Reimbursement Framework, Includes Other Health Policy Provisions

Today President Obama signed into law H.R. 2, the "Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015" (MACRA), which reforms Medicare payment policy for physician services and adopts a series of policy changes affecting a wide range of providers and suppliers. Most notably, MACRA permanently repeals the statutory Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, achieving a goal that has eluded Congress for years. Now, after a period of stable payment updates, MACRA will link physician payment updates to quality, value measurements, and participation in alternative payment models.… Continue Reading

House and Senate Approve Budget Resolutions with Medicare, Medicaid, ACA Provisions

On March 25, 2015, the House of Representatives approved (with no Democratic votes) H.Con.Res. 27, a budget resolution providing instructions to Congressional committees on the federal spending framework for FY 2016. Among other things, the resolution calls for repealing the ACA “in its entirety,” transforming Medicare into a premium-support program, and replacing the ACA Medicaid … Continue Reading
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