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Healthcare Today - May 10, 2024


House Ways and Means Committee Holds Markup on Telehealth Extension: On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee held a markup of the Preserving Telehealth, Hospital, and Ambulance Access Act, led by Reps. David Schweikert (R-AZ) and Mike Thompson (D-CA). Though the bill was passed through Committee by a 41-0 vote, there were objections by Democrats and Republicans to high-cost durable medical equipment and clinical diagnostics guardrails proposed in the bill – Democrats also voiced concerns about the lack of fraud prevention authorities.

DOJ Announces New Healthcare Antitrust Task force: On Thursday, the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced their new Task Force on Health Care Monopolies and Collusion to carry out investigations and potential civil or criminal enforcement of health care consolidation. According to an official release, the Task Force will “will consider widespread competition concerns shared by patients, health care professionals, businesses and entrepreneurs, including issues regarding payer-provider consolidation, serial acquisitions, labor and quality of care, medical billing, health care IT services, access to and misuse of health care data.”

Senator Marshall Plans to Reintroduce MA Prior Authorization Reform Bill: At a Senate Budget Committee hearing, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) said he plans to soon reintroduce the “Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act” after CBO returned a new cost projection. The bill would overhaul Medicare Advantage prior authorization and shift the process to an electronic system, including establishing a real-time decision process. Committee Chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a cosponsor of Marshall’s bill, also advocated prior authorization reform at the hearing.

Senators Fetterman and Smith Release Plans for Mental Health Commission: On Friday, Senators John Fetterman (D-PA) and Tina Smith released a discussion draft to establish a bipartisan Senate mental health commission they say would address gaps in patient care, provider payment and other persistent problems. Sens. Fetterman and Smith have been outspoken about their own bouts with mental health conditions, with Sen. Fetterman saying, “I’m committed to ensuring that everyone suffering from mental health challenges has access to the same resources and treatment that I did.”

CMS Proposes Hospital Incentives to Encourage Transplants: On Wednesday, CMS proposed test performance-based incentives for providers to help increase the number of kidney transplants for patients with end-stage renal disease. The model, called the Increasing Organ Transplant Access Model, would measure participating transplant hospitals by “increases in the number of transplants, organ acceptance rates, and post-transplant outcomes.” CMS would also require providers formulate “health equity plans.”

Ascension Health System Hit with Cyberattack: On Thursday, Ascension, one of the largest health systems in the United States, said it was struck by a cyberattack that knocked patient record systems offline. Electronic patient charts, certain medical devices, and MyChart were affected by the hack, and Ascension said it will begin analyzing if sensitive patient data was compromised.  

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