Weekly Washington Healthcare Update - May 18, 2015

Author:Ms Stephanie Kennan, Charlyn A. Iovino, Brian J. Looser and Amanda Anderson
Profession:McGuireWoods LLP

This Week: Health Subcommittee Advances 21st Century Cures, Full Committee Action Scheduled...Senate Finance Committee Hearing: Chair Hatch to Launch New Initiative on Improving Chronic Care for Medicare Patients...Hawaii's Exchange Submits Corrective Action Plan to CMS, State May Have to Abandon State Exchange Due to Funding and IT Issues.



    Health Subcommittee Advances 21st Century Cures, Full Committee Action Scheduled

    Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Upton (R-MI) has announced his Committee will convene Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 5 p.m. in order to consider the 21st Century Cures initiative, a nonpartisan legislative proposal that aims to accelerate the pace of cures and medical breakthroughs in the United States. Over the course of the last year, the 21st Century Cures initiative involved a nationwide conversation with patients, providers, innovators, regulators and researchers. During the conversation, the Committee received countless ideas in response to the Committee white papers, held eight hearings convened by the Subcommittee on Health, and held over a dozen roundtables hosted both at the Committee and by members in their districts all across the country. In January, the Committee launched the legislative phase of the 21st Century Cures initiative by circulating a discussion document, which included a number of ideas proposed by both Republicans and Democrats. The Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on the discussion document on April 30, 2015, and on May 14, 2015, the Subcommittee met in open markup session to consider the discussion draft and forwarded the bill, as amended, to the full Committee by a voice vote. For more information, or to view the markup, please visit: http://energycommerce.house.gov/markup/full-committee-vote-21st-century-cures-act

    Eighteen House Democrats Send Letter to Leadership to Push for Medical Device Tax Repeal

    A group of 18 Democratic congressmen, led by Rep. Scott Peters (CA), sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin calling for the repeal of the medical device excise tax prior to the Memorial Day recess. In the letter, the lawmakers note that the Protect Medical Innovation Act, which was introduced by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MI) in January, has broad bipartisan support from 277 House members. The medical device excise tax is estimated to generate up to $30 billion over the next decade to help provide health insurance to all Americans, however industry estimates it could cost as many as 43,000 jobs nationwide and billions of dollars if the tax stays in place.

    Upcoming: Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee to Host Hearing on State Actions to Prevent Opioid Abuse

    The House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), will hold a hearing entitled "What are the State Governments Doing to Combat the Opioid Abuse Epidemic?" on Thursday, May 21, 2015, at 10:15 a.m. in 2322 Rayburn House Office Building. The subcommittee will continue its hearing series to review how states are combatting the opioid abuse epidemic and explore how state and federal policies can most effectively incentivize the development and broadened use of evidence-based practices and treatments in their communities. In the hearing, subcommittee members will hear testimony from several state health leaders about their experiences in coordinating efforts with the federal government; witnesses from Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts and Missouri will testify.

    A witness list was not available at the time of print. For more information or to view the hearing, visit energycommerce.house.gov.

    Upcoming Ways and Means Hearing Will Examine Competition in Medicare

    Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) has announced that the subcommittee will hold a hearing titled "Improving Competition in Medicare: Removing Moratoria and Expanding Access." The hearing will take place on Tuesday, May 19, at 10 a.m. Oral testimony at this hearing will be from the invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing. For more information, or to view the hearing, please visit: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=398604


    Senate Finance Committee Hearing: Chair Hatch to Launch New Initiative on Improving Chronic Care for Medicare Patients

    On May 14, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing entitled "A Pathway to Improving Care for Medicare Patients with Chronic Conditions" where Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced a new plan for the committee to address rising Medicare spending on treating multiple chronic illnesses while simultaneously improving how Medicare beneficiaries with chronic illnesses are treated. "Chronically ill patients account for a large percentage of Medicare spending, and if left unresolved, this situation will only get worse," Chair Hatch said in a statement. "We have to find ways to provide high quality care at greater value and lower cost, and I look forward to working with Ranking Member Wyden and all of our committee colleagues towards this goal." Worth noting, Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) said the committee intends to release chronic-care legislation in the coming months, with intended full chamber passage by the end of the year. A working group to develop policy ideas for the committee to consider will be co-chaired by Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Mark Warner (D-VA). The Committee will solicit public comments on the initiative in the coming weeks. According to Centers for Medicare& Medicaid Services (CMS) data, more than 90 percent of Medicare spending is on beneficiaries with two or more chronic conditions. At the hearing, both witnesses offered their ideas on how Congress can begin addressing chronic illness in Medicare.

    Witness List

    Dr. Patrick Conway Acting Principal Deputy Administrator Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality, and Chief Medical Officer Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Department of Health and Human Services

    Mark E. Miller, Ph.D. Executive Director Medicare Payment Advisory Commission

    For more information or to watch the hearing, please visit finance.senate.gov.

    Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing Examines Status of Veterans Choice Program

    On May 12, the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing entitled, "Exploring the Implementation and Future of the Veterans Choice Program." The hearing gave members of the committee an opportunity to hear from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in addition to other experts, on the implementation of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act. According to Ranking Member Murray's opening statement, despite $5 billion being allocated to improve health services for veterans, delays and confusion in getting care through the program remain.


    Panel I

    The Honorable Sloan D. Gibson Deputy Secretary U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (Accompanied by Dr. James Tuchschmidt, Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health)

    Mr. David J. McIntyre President and Chief Executive Officer TriWest Healthcare Alliance

    Ms. Donna Hoffmeier Vice President, VA Services and PCCC Program Manager HealthNet Federal Services

    Panel II

    Mr. Roscoe Butler Deputy Director for Health Care The American Legion

    Mr. Darin Selnick Senior Veterans Affairs Advisor Concerned Veterans for America

    Mr. Joseph Violante National Legislative Director Disabled American Veterans

    Mr. Bill Rausch Political Director Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

    Mr. Carlos Fuentes Senior Legislative Associate Veterans of Foreign Wars

    For more information, or to view the hearing, please visit: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings/exploring-the-implementation-and-future-of-the-veterans-choice-program051215

    Sens. Reed, Murkowski Introduce Youth Suicide Prevention Bill

    On May 12, Sens. Murkowski (R-AK) and Reed (D-RI) introduced the Garrett Lee Smith Reauthorization Act in order to improve mental health services for young people and, in turn, help prevent youth suicide. Specifically, the bill is designed to improve access to counseling for at-risk teens and promote the development of statewide suicide early intervention and prevention strategies. It will also increase federal funding for competitive grants to help states, colleges, universities and tribes improve mental and behavioral health counseling services. A...

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