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Healthcare Today - March 8, 2024


Biden Speaks to Health Policy Priorities in State of the Union Address: On Thursday evening, President Biden delivered his State of the Union address, highlighting health policy achievements he seeks to further implement in a potential second term. Biden took a victory lap on the IRA Medicare drug price negotiation and pitched a plan to expand on the policy, including extending the insulin price cap to private insurance and expanding the number of drugs open to negotiation to nearly 500 scripts. He said he also hopes to implement a $2 copay for all generic prescriptions.

Congress to Pass 2024 Funding Minibus Package: The U.S. Senate convened on Friday to pass legislation that would fund several federal agencies through September and avert a partial government shutdown that otherwise would begin at midnight. Included in this minibus are four of the twelve FY2024 appropriations bills: Agriculture-FDA, Military Construction-VA, Energy & Water and Transportation-HUD, and Interior and Commerce-Justice-Science bills.

Important healthcare provisions include:

• MIPPA Programs extension through December 31, 2024.

• Medicare Physician Pay 1.68% reduction to the 3.37% cut through 2024. This provision would effectively reduce the MPFS cut to 1.69% for the rest of the calendar year.

• Work Geographic Practice Cost Indices (GPCI) 1.0 Floor extension through December 31, 2024.• Eliminates DSH statutorily required payment reductions through December 31, 2024

• National Health Service Corps extension through December 31, 2024.

• Includes some of the provisions of the SUPPORT Act (H.R. 4531), primarily programs and grants in Medicaid, including requiring coverage of Medication-Assisted Treatment, making permanent the state option to provide Medicaid covered services to individuals who have a substance use disorder.

No PBM reform or site neutral reimbursement policies were included in the package.

DOJ, FTC, and HHS Launch Public Inquiry into Private-Equity in Health Care: On Tuesday, the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission and HHS announced a cross-governmental inquiry into the effects of private equity consolidation and what federal actions would best deter firms from continued misconduct throughout the health care sector. Included in the announcement was a public RFI, with five questions posed to the public. Comments are due May 6.

Biden to Launch Health Care Costs Task Force: On Monday, White House sources said President Biden plans to launch a new federal task force focused on easing health care costs. Officials from the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services will be on the task force, focused on enforcement, the White House sources said.

House Passes Maternal Health Bill: On Tuesday, the U.S. House passed H.R. 3838, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Reauthorization Act. The bill, led by Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Michael Burgess (R-TX), continues federal support for state-based maternal review committees that review pregnancy-related deaths to identify causes and make recommendations for the prevention of future mortalities.

House Ways and Means Committee Holds Legislative Markup: On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), held a legislative markup on three healthcare bills, including the Protecting America’s Seniors’ Access to Care Act, the Kidney PATIENT Act, and Real-Time Benefit Tool Implementation Act. The Protecting America’s Seniors’ Access to Care Act would prohibit the HHS from finalizing a proposed rule regarding minimum staffing for nursing facilities and establish an advisory panel on the nursing home workforce.

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