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Healthcare Today - June 14, 2024


House Energy and Commerce Committee Holds Health Markup: On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a markup of thirteen legislative proposals, though legislation to extend telehealth waivers and a bill to counteract regulations establishing minimum nursing home staffing ratios were not included. Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) remained optimistic about marking up the telehealth bill before the August recess. Legislators voted in unanimous support for the Seniors Access to Critical Medications Act after bipartisan amendments further clarified Stark Law protections; the Accelerating Kids’ Access to Care Act passed with a bipartisan amendment barring PBM spread pricing on Medicaid drugs.

House Appropriations Subcommittee Passes Agriculture-FDA Funding Bill: On Tuesday evening, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and the FDA passed their FY2025 appropriations package, without a single amendment being introduced in the markup. Legislators included further measures to monitor the Indian and Chinese drug supply chain and allow states to voluntarily participate in a program to restrict unhealthy food purchases with SNAP benefits.

Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on Youth Residential Treatment Facilities: On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on “abuse and neglect” of children at residential treatment facilities. The hearing was paired with a committee report on the status of current care across the country, with Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) saying he plans to introduce legislation to raise health and safety standards, require oversight and enforcement, and invest in the community-based services.

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Holds Hearing on CMMI: On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on the performance of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, as CBO has recently reported some of the programs’ savings have failed to meet original projections. The Subcommittee questioned current Director Elizabeth Fowler, who said that the several payment models that were pulled after failing to meet original savings projections are learning opportunities for future models. Committee Republicans were especially critical of CMMI’s activities (except for Accountable Care Organization models), and said they hope for better consultation with the Committee when devising future payment programs.  

Bipartisan Group Released Electronic Prior Authorization Bill: On Wednesday, a bipartisan group led by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) reintroduced legislation that would require Medicare Advantage plans to establish electronic prior authorization programs for health care providers beginning in 2027. “Prior authorization is the number one administrative burden facing physicians today across all specialties,” Sen. Marshall said in a statement. Importantly, this new legislation earned a zero-dollar CBO estimate score, whereas a previous iteration had a $16 billion cost attached.  

NASEM Advises Adoption of New Long Covid Definition: On Tuesday, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report with an updated definition of Long Covid as a “SARS-CoV-2 infection present for at least three months as a continuous, relapsing and remitting, or progressive disease state that affects one or more organ systems.” NASEM advised government officials and healthcare workers to adopt the new standard.  

CMS Releases New Health Expenditures Data: On Wednesday, CMS’ Office of the Actuary released new projection calculations for national health spending. CMS reported historic high health insurance coverage of 93.1% of the U.S. population, yet health spending is estimated to have outpaced the rest of the country’s economy in 2023, growing by 7.5% with projected expenditures of $4.8 trillion. Medicare spending is projected to have grown 8.4% in 2023 and out-of-pocket spending grew by 7.9%.

Biden Administration Releases Proposed Rule to Ban Medical Debt from Credit Reports: On Tuesday, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra and Vice President Kamala Harris unveiled a new proposed rule that would ban medical debt from credit reports. The rule would also cover existing medical debt and dental debt and would prohibit credit reporting companies from including medical debt on reports sent to creditors.  

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