Health Care Policy Happenings - September 4-7

12 September 2018 Health Care Law Today Blog
Author(s): Scott L. Klug Jennifer F. Walsh Dennis A. Cardoza Michael K. Crossen Theodore H. Bornstein

Congress is back in session after the August recess and, as expected, a flurry of activity took place.  Here are some key health care policy headlines from the past week that you may have missed.


Legislation and Committee Activity

Senate Agrees to Vote Next Week on The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 – On Thursday, the Senate agreed to vote next week on the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 (S. 2680)—a bipartisan package of over 70 proposals recommended to the full Senate by five committees: Health, Finance, Judiciary, Commerce and Banking.  HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) released a section by section of The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. Read More

Washington Times: House Plans to Take its Next Swing at Obamacare  – House Republicans are taking another stab at undoing or postponing parts of Obamacare, according to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, (R-TX). The House will take up measures to undo or delay the employer mandate as well as the “Cadillac” tax on health insurance plans, as it has done several times before since Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, went into effect. On Friday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that the House will take up the package of bills next week. Read More

The Hill: Trump Health Chief Meets with GOP Lawmakers on Lowering Drug Prices – On Thursday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar met with Republican lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee to discuss ways to lower drug prices. President Trump has railed against drug prices and his administration has rolled out a series of actions seeking to lower prices, though many say the moves have been relatively modest. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said that Azar gave lawmakers an update on steps the administration has taken on drug prices, stating “We talked about what steps can Congress take to help lower these prices as well.”  Read More

E&C Leaders Seek More Information on Role of Pharmacy Benefit Managers in Impacting Drug Prices – Last week, Energy and Commerce Committee leaders sent letters to various Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to better understand the role of PBMs in the drug supply chain. Read More

Bipartisan, Bicameral Leaders Urge Effective Administration of 340B Drug Pricing Program – Last week,  House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) regarding the fact that they have not used their rulemaking authority to implement regulations to better administer the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Read More

Supreme Court

Vox: Here’s What we Learned from Kavanaugh’s 2-Day Questioning Marathon – Democratic senators targeted Brett Kavanaugh’s views on executive power, abortion rights, and health care during two days of questioning this week. Lawmakers also focused heavily on Kavanaugh’s inconsistencies between his 2006 confirmation testimony and documentation that’s emerged since, as well as questionable meetings he may have had pertaining to the Mueller investigation. And they hammered on concerns that the vetting process for Kavanaugh — which has been incredibly partisan — has not been transparent enough. Read More


The Hill: ObamaCare Premiums to Rise Just 3.6 Percent Next Year, Sign of Stability – ObamaCare premiums will rise by an average of just 3.6 percent for next year according to a new analysis, a sign of stabilization in the law’s markets.  The analysis from the consulting firm Avalere and the Associated Press looked at 47 states where data was available and found that premium increases will be much lower for 2019 compared to the 30 percent increase on average in 2018. Read More


New York Times: 2 States Had Primary Elections This Week. Here’s What We Learned. – An incumbent congressman was unseated in Massachusetts on Tuesday, and a senator beat back a challenger in Delaware on Thursday in two of the final primaries of the 2018 midterm elections. Read More

New Hampshire and Rhode Island will hold the final round of primaries next week. Read More

Looking Ahead

The Senate and House are in session next week.

On Thursday, the House Veteran Affairs Technology Modernization Subcommittee  will hold a hearing on The Role of the Interagency Program Office in VA Electronic Health Record Modernization. Read More

On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing to review Regulatory Burdens that Impede Value-Based Arrangements in Quality Care Improvement. Read More

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