This Week: Congress focuses on organizing for the next Congress and the continuing resolution; previews of drug pricing legislation for the next Congress; CMS issues controversial guidance concerning how states can use subsidies.


Incoming House chairmen Ask Trump Officials for Documentation on Plan for Bypassing Key Requirements of the ACA
Reps. Pallone (D-NJ) and Richard Neal (D-MA), incoming chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce and House Ways and Means Committee, respectively, have asked Trump officials to provide documents and answers to questions about a plan, for which additional guidance was released on Nov. 30, to give states more options to bypass key requirements of the Affordable Care Act. States would be permitted to use subsidies for plans other than those that meet ACA requirements.


Senators Ask CMS to Move on Direct-to-Consumer Advertising by End of Year
On Nov. 16, incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Senate Democratic Whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) asked the Trump administration to finalize a proposal requiring drug manufacturers to disclose list prices in direct-to-consumer advertising, by the end of the year. The senators also called on the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to adopt additional drug-price disclosure measures.

Sanders, Khanna Release Drug-Pricing Bill Blending Republican and Democratic Ideas
On Nov. 20, Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) unveiled a prescription drug-pricing bill that mixes Republican and Democratic proposals. The proposal expands the Trump administration’s international reference pricing concept to span the entire U.S. drug market and includes a Democratic proposal to give the government power to invalidate brand-drug manufacturers’ exclusivity if their drug prices are deemed excessively high. Sanders and Khanna plan to introduce the bill in the next session of Congress.

Sen. Merkley Proposes Bill to Sell Drugs at Reference Price
On Nov 29, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) proposed a bill to force prescription drug manufacturers to set prices at or below an international reference price based on 11 other countries, or get kicked out of Medicare, Medicaid and Affordable Care Act exchanges. The Department of Health & Human Services’s (HHS) secretary would determine reference prices for both brand and generic drugs.


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