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 of health technology, and other issues It also would exclude journals, reprints, and other education-related items and payments from Physician Payment Sunshine Act reporting.
During markup, the panel approved an amendment offered by Chairman Upton making a number of policy revisions and offsets, including, among other things, provisions that:
- Limit Medicaid durable medical equipment reimbursement rates to Medicare fee-for-service rates applicable in the state, effective January 1, 2020;
- Make various changes to Medicare imaging reimbursement policy, including modification of Medicare physician fee schedule and outpatient prospective payment system payments to incentivize the transition from traditional x-ray imaging to digital radiography (with payment reductions for the use of non-digital technology) and a requirement that the Secretary conduct an empirical analysis before applying the multiple procedure payment reduction to the professional component of imaging services;
- Implement OIG recommendation to delay certain Medicare Part D prescription drug plan prepayments;
- Establish a Cures Innovation Fund equal to $110 million for each of fiscal years 2016 through 2020; and
- Exempt certain FDA user fees from sequestration.
The bill now moves on to the full House.