The House of Representatives has approved H.R. 987, the “Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act,” which packages seven prescription drug and insurance-related bills recently approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  The legislation is intended to:  increase generic drug competition; fund Affordable Care Act “Navigator” outreach and enrollment programs and state-based insurance marketplaces; and reverse Trump Administration policies on short-term, limited duration insurance (STLDI).  The bill was approved on a largely party-line vote of 234 – 183.  While voicing support for the bill’s provisions to help speed the availability of generic drugs, the Trump Administration has announced its opposition to the bill in its current form, primarily because of the STLDI provision.

Congressional committees also have held hearings this month to highlight various health policy topics, including the following:

  • A Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Intellectual Property and the Price of Prescription Drugs: Balancing Innovation and Competition.”
  • A Senate Finance Committee hearing entitled “Medicare Physician Payment Reform after Two Years: Examining MACRA Implementation and the Road Ahead.”
  • A Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on “Implementing the 21st Century Cures Act: Making Electronic Health Information Available to Patients and Providers.”
  • A House Ways and Means Committee hearing on “Protecting Patients from Surprise Medical Bills.”
  • A House Budget Committee hearing on “Key Design Components and Considerations for Establishing a Single-Payer Health Care System.”
  • Energy and Commerce Committee hearings on drug cost transparency and the drug supply chain.  Looking ahead, a June 4, 2019 Energy and Commerce hearing will focus on proposals to reauthorize various federal health care programs (so-called “extenders”).