This Week: The Affordable Care Act was found unconstitutional, but nothing will change as it winds through the courts. As the 115th Congress comes to a close, last-minute bills are introduced, some healthcare legislation passed and CBO releases its biannual book of ideas to reduce the deficit. It is unclear if the government will shut down or not; the continuing resolution runs out on the 21st.
House Passes Medicaid Package, Includes Senate Drug Misclassification Bill
The House of Representatives voted 400-11 to pass a health care bill (H.R. 7127) that includes the ACE Kids Act, legislation that would allow state Medicaid programs to use a health home model to coordinate care for children with medically complex conditions. Among other provisions, the bill would maintain spousal impoverishment protections, require states to come into compliance with asset verification requirements and provide for civil monetary penalties against manufacturers that knowingly misclassify drugs under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program.
Ways and Means Chair Pushes Device, Insurance, “Cadillac” Tax Delays by End of the Year
On Dec. 10, outgoing House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced a revised tax and IRS oversight package that also includes the delay and repeal of certain Affordable Care Act taxes. The legislation would include a five-year delay of the medical device tax, a two-year delay of the health insurance tax and a one-year delay of the Cadillac tax—delays that were Republican priorities in the Save American Workers Act, which never reached a floor vote. The chairman believes the bill could pass with bipartisan support before Christmas.
Text of the revised tax package can be located here.
Ways & Means Republicans Introduce Medicare Red Tape Reduction Package
On Dec. 11, the House Ways and Means Republicans introduced a package of seven bills as part of their Medicare Red Tape Relief Project. The legislation includes proposals to permanently eliminating physician supervision requirements for critical access hospitals, repealing the 96-hour rule for critical access hospitals and requiring prior authorization notification and a study on simplification.
Find more information on this legislation here.
Senate Democrats Introduce Bill for HHS to Block Drug Price Rises
On Dec. 13, Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (CT), Kamala Harris (CA), Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Jeff Merkley (OR) introduced legislation allowing the government to prohibit prescription drug price hikes if they are unjustifiably expensive. The Curbing Unreasonable Rises and Excessively (CURE) High Drug Prices Act allows the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to prohibit drug price increases that it decides are excessive.
Read more about healthcare policy on the McGuireWoods Consulting website.