United States: Health Care Policy Newsletter - 25 Junes 2018

Foley & Lardner LLP's ("Foley") Bipartisan Public Policy Team is pleased to share our "Public Policy Weekly* Health Care Newsletter" in which we compile the latest Health care policy news and legislation. *Please note that we publish this newsletter only when Congress is in session.

This Week in Health Care Policy (June 11-15, 2018)


Legislation and Committee Activity

House Passes Package to Combat the Opioid Crisis – The House of Representatives today passed the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) authored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA). H.R. 6 passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 396-14. Read More

House Passes 12 More E&C Bills to Combat the Opioid Crisis – On Tuesday, the House of Representatives continued its two-week long consideration of dozens of bills to combat the opioid crisis. Passing the House on Tuesday were 18 additional bills, including 12 from the Energy and Commerce Committee, that included provisions within the committee's jurisdiction. Read More

House Passes Mullin Bill to Update Law that has Impeded Patient Care and Safety – On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 6082), authored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), by a bipartisan vote of 357-57. H.R. 6082 will align the use of substance use disorder (SUD) treatment records with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Read More

The Hill: House passes bill allowing Medicaid to pay for certain opioid, cocaine treatment – The House passed a bill on Wednesday allowing the Medicaid program to pay for opioid and cocaine addiction treatment in certain inpatient facilities, despite opposition from many Democrats. The bill passed in a 261-155 vote. Read More

Senate Committee Approves FY2019 Financial Services & General Government Appropriations Bill – On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Appropriations advanced a $23.688 billion funding measure that prioritizes national programs to combat terrorism financing, spur small business growth, maintain a fair and efficient judicial system, and target heroin and prescription drug abuse. Read More

Congress Needs More Information to Make 340B Program Work Better for Patients – On Wednesday, Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said Congress needs more accurate information to determine how to make the 340B Program work better for patients and hospitals. Read More

Senate Budget Committee Members Press HHS on Billions of Improper Payments in Medicare and Medicaid – On Tuesday, Republican members of the Senate Budget Committee sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar on his agency's plan to address the $89 billion of improper payments made within the Medicare and Medicaid programs each year. Read More

Ways and Means Markup on Health Bills – On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved three health bills in committee markup- the first bill, H.R. 4952 would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a study and submit a report on the effects of the inclusion of quality increases in the determination of blended benchmark amounts under part C of the Medicare program. The second, H.R. 6142 would o authorize a joint action plan and report on drug waste and the third bill, H.R. 6138 would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for ambulatory surgical center representation during the review of hospital outpatient payment rates under part B of the Medicare program, and for other purposes .The committee approved the bills in a voice vote and sent it to the House floor. Read More

Rep. Richmond introduces Medicare Part E Bill – On June 14, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) introduced a bill to provide for the establishment of Medicare part E public health plans, and other purposes (H.R. 6117). Read More

House Democrats Press HHS on Gag Rule – On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee Democrats sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, requesting documents on the proposed gag rule for the Title X program. The issue is separate from the funding announcement and would effectively ban many health care providers from referring patients for abortion. Read More


Newsday: Trump proposing to reorganize federal government – The Trump administration proposed a major reorganization of the federal government on Thursday, calling a merger for the education and labor departments, moving the federal food stamp program to the Department of Health and Human Services and renaming that agency. The plan represented the latest aspiration of a presidential administration to revamp a sprawling federal government. Read More


SAMHSA accepting applications for up to $50 million to help tribes address opioid crisis – On Thursday, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced that it is accepting applications for up to $50 million in Tribal Opioid Response Grants. The grants, which will go to tribes and tribal organizations, will fund prevention, treatment, and recovery activities in response to the opioid crisis. Read More

Secretary Azar Praises Trump Administration Expansion of Health Insurance Options – HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued a statement regarding the Department of Labor's release of a final rule on the regulation of Association/Small Business Health Plans. Read More


The Hill: New Labor rule will be a big health care boon for small businesses – The Labor Department's newly published regulation on Association Health Plans (AHPs) delivers an emphatic yes, promising to make health coverage in the small business sector both less expensive and more widely available. Read More


CMS Launches Data Element Library Supporting Interoperability – On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the agency's first Data Element Library (DEL). The DEL is a new CMS database that supports the exchange of electronic health information. Using this free, centralized resource, the public for the first time can view the specific types of data that CMS requires post-acute care facilities (such as nursing homes and rehabilitation hospitals) to collect as part of the health assessment of their patients. Read More

CMS seeks public input on reducing the regulatory burdens of the Stark Law – On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking recommendations and input from the public on how to address any undue impact and burden of the physician self-referral law (also known as the "Stark Law"), focusing in part on how the law may impede care coordination, a key aspect of systems that deliver value. Read More

CMS Statement: Administrator Verma Applauds Greater Access to Health Coverage under New Rule – The Trump Administration took important steps to help small business employees and their families, who were left out of Obamacare, gain access to higher quality, more affordable health coverage. The number of small businesses that offer health coverage has been declining for years and Obamacare did nothing to reverse this trend. Read More


Statement from Douglas Throckmorton, M.D., deputy center director for regulatory programs in FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, on the agency's response to ongoing drug shortages for critical products – Among the biggest challenges health care providers and patients face are shortages of medically necessary medications. These shortages greatly impact patient treatment options and require practitioners to make difficult decisions that can compromise care, such as rationing supplies or using less desirable, but more readily available, alternative therapies. The FDA also understands the impact and concern these shortages may have on patients and we want to reassure them that their care will continue to be our priority. Read More

FDA approves first continuous glucose monitoring system with a fully implantable glucose sensor and compatible mobile app for adults with diabetes – On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Eversense Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) system for use in people 18 years of age and older with diabetes. This is the first FDA-approved CGM system to include a fully implantable sensor to detect glucose, which can be worn for up to 90 days. Read More


LA Times: Medicaid strategy favored by Trump may make care less affordable, new studies indicate – Even as the Trump administration pushes to make Medicaid enrollees pay a greater share of their healthcare costs, new research suggests this strategy may prevent many poor patients from getting needed care. An independent study of Indiana, which has helped pioneer the strategy of charging Medicaid patients, identified lower rates of health coverage in the state than in neighboring states that do not impose the same costs. Read More

New York State Department of Health Announces Opioid Use to be Added as a Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana – On Monday, the New York State Department of Health announced it will develop a regulatory amendment to add opioid use as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. "The opioid epidemic in New York State is an unprecedented crisis, and it is critical to ensure that providers have as many options as possible to treat patients in the most effective way," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. " Read More

Bloomberg Law: California Budget Excludes Curtailed Hospital Rx Discounts – California's budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 rejected Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) proposal to exclude Medicaid beneficiaries from a federal program offering discounted drugs to safety-net hospitals and clinics. Read More


WTOP: Incumbents roll to victories in DC's Democratic primary – With Mayor Muriel Bowser and U.S. House Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton leading the way, all the incumbents in D.C.'s Democratic primary have been projected as winners by The Associated Press. Read More

On Tuesday, June 26 – Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah will head to the polls. Read More

Looking Ahead

The House and Senate are in session next week.

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Prescription Drug Affordability and Innovation: Addressing Challenges in Today's Market. HHS Secretary Alex Azar will testify. Read More

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee will markup the FY19 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill. Read More

On Tuesday, the House Veteran Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on electronic health records. Read More

On Wednesday, the Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing on How to Reduce Health Care Costs: Understanding the Cost of Health Care in America. Read More

On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on the Trump administrations government reorganization plan. Read More

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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