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Stopgap Government Funding Law Includes Reprieve from ACA Medical Device, Insurance Taxes, Extends CHIP Funding

In addition to keeping the federal government operating through February 8, 2018, the newly-enacted Continuing Appropriations Act provides temporary relief from three health-related taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and funds the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through fiscal year 2023. With regard to the ACA taxes, the Continuing Appropriations Act: Imposes a … Continue Reading

House Panel Approves Off-Label Communication, OTC Monograph User Fee, Good Samaritan Health Professionals Bills

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee voted to approve the following health policy bills on January 18, 2017: H.R. 2026, the Pharmaceutical Information Exchange (PIE) Act. This bill would create a safe harbor that would allow drug and medical device companies to share certain health care economic or scientific information with payers, formularies, and … Continue Reading

Congress Holds More Hearings on Opioid Crisis and Public Health Threats

A number of recent Congressional hearings focused on the opioid crisis, including the following: A House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing on the current landscape of the crisis and CMS efforts to prevent opioid misuse. A Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing examining the ways Medicaid may have unexpectedly contributed to development … Continue Reading

GOP Tax Bill Eliminates ACA Individual Insurance Mandate Penalty

While previous broad Republican efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have failed, the GOP tax bill cleared by Congress today has succeeded in effectively repealing the ACA’s individual health insurance mandate.  By way of background, the ACA established a penalty for failure to maintain health insurance coverage that provides at least minimum essential … Continue Reading

Year-End Congressional Hearings Examine Health Policies

This month, Congressional committees held a number of hearings that focused on health policy issues, including the following: House Energy & Commerce Committee hearings on the drug supply chain and patient brokering/addiction treatment fraud. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearings on the cost of prescription drugs and implementation of the 21st Century … Continue Reading

Congressional Hearings Focus on Health Policy Issues

A number of Congressional panels have scheduled or held recent hearings on health policy issues, including the following: On November 30, 2017, the House Energy & Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act), featuring testimony by National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, M.D. and Food … Continue Reading

House Approves IPAB Repeal Legislation

The House of Representatives has voted 307 – 111 to approve HR 849, Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act, to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).  Under the ACA, the IPAB must submit Medicare spending plans to Congress if projected spending growth exceeds specified targets.  IPAB proposals go into effect automatically unless Congress enacts … Continue Reading

President Signs Metabolic Syndrome Support Legislation, Emergency Medication Act

President Trump has signed into law S 920, the National Clinical Care Commission Act, which establishes a national clinical care commission to improve coordination of federal programs that support care for people with complex metabolic syndromes and related autoimmune disorders. In addition, President Trump signed HR 304, Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of … Continue Reading

HHS Secretary Nominee Azar to Face Senate HELP Committee after Thanksgiving

President Trump has nominated Alex Azar to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, which would fill the vacancy created when Tom Price, MD resigned the post in September.  Mr. Azar, an attorney who previously served in senior HHS positions and as a pharmaceutical industry executive, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Health, Education, … Continue Reading

New Laws Extend IVIG Demonstration and Expiring Public Health Programs, Promote Early Hearing Detection and Intervention

President Trump has signed into law a bill (P.L. 115-63) that extends the Medicare Intravenous Immune Globulin (IVIG) Demonstration through December 31, 2020. The law also extends through the first quarter of FY2018 (1) the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, and (2) the Special Diabetes Program for Indians. The President also signed S … Continue Reading

Congress Clears Bill to Improve Metabolic Syndrome Support Programs

The House of Representatives and Senate have both approved S 920, the National Clinical Care Commission Act, clearing the measure for the President. The bill would establish a national clinical care commission to improve coordination of federal programs that support care for people with metabolic syndromes and related autoimmune disorders.… Continue Reading

Committees Approve Bills to Boost Medicare Penalties, Revise Part B Policies, Extend CHIP Funding

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has approved by voice vote the following bipartisan bills addressing the Medicare Part B program: HR 3245, which would significantly increase various Medicare civil and criminal penalties under sections 1128A and 1128B of the Social Security Act. Sponsors of the bill note these penalties have not been updated in … Continue Reading

Senate Advances Emergency Medicine Access Legislation

On October 24, 2017, the Senate approved HR 304, the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medicines Act, which would clarify that emergency medical services professionals may administer controlled substances pursuant to standing or verbal orders in certain circumstances. While the House passed the legislation in January 2017, the House needs to consider the measure again … Continue Reading

Congressional Health Policy Hearings

Recent Congressional hearings focusing on health policy issues include the following: House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings on how covered entities use the 340B drug pricing program, ways to address the opioid crisis, FDA’s Expanded Access Program, and HHS’s public health preparedness for and response to the 2017 hurricane season. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and … Continue Reading

Chronic Care Legislation Approved by Senate

The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved S. 870, the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017 (as amended). The bill is intended to improve care for the chronically ill in fee-for-service Medicare, Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, and accountable care organizations (ACOs). In particular, the bill calls for increased … Continue Reading

Senate GOP Abandons Last-Ditch ACA Repeal/Replace Legislation in Face of Opposition

The latest Republican Congressional attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has foundered, as three Republican senators announced they will join Democratic senators in opposing the “Graham-Cassidy” repeal plan. Very broadly, Graham-Cassidy would, among other things: Eliminate the penalties and mandates that individuals buy insurance and certain employers offer insurance; Replace insurance … Continue Reading

Roundup of Recent Congressional Health Policy Hearings

Several recent Congressional hearings have focused on health policy issues. For instance, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held hearings on Food and Drug Administration regulation of over-the-counter drugs and Public Health Service Act health workforce programs. The Senate Finance Committee held hearings on the Graham-Cassidy health insurance reform bill, CHIP funding reauthorization, and health … Continue Reading

House Panels Advance Medicare Policy Bills, including Hike in Civil/Criminal Penalties

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health has approved the following seven bipartisan bills addressing the Medicare Part B program: HR 3245, which would significantly increase various Medicare civil and criminal penalties under sections 1128A and 1128B of the Social Security Act, which sponsors note have not been updated in 20 years. Maximum penalties … Continue Reading

Ways & Means Committee Approves Alternative Pathway for Stark Act Technical Violations

The House Ways and Means Committee has approved legislation to create an alternative pathway to resolve certain technical violations of the Stark physician self-referral law. The bill, HR 3726, would allow an entity or individual to voluntarily disclose previous inadvertent technical noncompliance (e.g., the arrangement is not signed by one or more parties to the … Continue Reading

Senate HELP Committee to Examine Ways to Stabilize Individual Health Insurance Markets

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is holding a series of hearings in September 2017 to focus on “actions Congress should take to stabilize and strengthen the individual health insurance markets.” Specifically, a September 6 hearing will feature five state insurance commissioners, and second hearing on September 7 will include testimony from … Continue Reading

With All Eyes on Senate ACA-Repeal Debate, House Passes Bill to Tweak Stark Law and Other Medicare Part B Policies

While the Capitol Hill spotlight is focused on the Senate debate on legislation to repeal or revise the Affordable Care Act, the House of Representatives quietly approved by voice vote HR 3178, the Medicare Part B Improvement Act of 2017. The bipartisan bill would impact a number of Medicare policies, including the Stark physician self-referral … Continue Reading
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