House Hearings

House Ways and Means Committee: The Cost of Rising Prescription Drug Prices
On Feb. 12, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the work that would need to be done to pass Medicare price negotiation. Find a link to witness testimonies, member statements and the hearing live feed here.

Why is this important: Health subcommittee Chair Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) promoted his price-negotiation proposal (H.R.1046), yet maintained his stance that he is open to other negotiation models, including compulsory arbitration.

Doggett’s price-negotiation bill is the highest-profile proposal thus far with more than 100 House cosponsors. It allows the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate prices for all drugs, though Republicans largely inquired about how to address the costs of expensive, single-source drugs. House Republicans oppose Medicare negotiation, especially if the plan were to let the government exclude coverage of drugs.

House Committee on Energy and Commerce: Strengthening Our Health Care System—Legislation to Reverse ACA Sabotage and Ensure Pre-Existing Conditions Protections
On Feb. 13, the House Energy and Commerce committee held a hearing on threats to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how to protection patients with pre-existing conditions as a result of ongoing legislation and federal court cases that could dismantle the law.

Why this is important: The House Energy & Commerce Committee identified three pieces of legislation to reverse the Trump administration’s actions to unravel the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The package, which the health subcommittee reviewed at the hearing, would revoke the administration’s short-term plan rule, strike the revised state innovation waiver guidance and restore ACA outreach funding. In addition, there appeared to be bipartisan interest in legislation introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) to inform consumers about the shortcomings of short-term plans. 

The bills reviewed include:

  1. The Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions Act of 2019, (H.R.986), introduced by Democratic Reps. Ann Kuster (NH), Joe Courtney (CT) and Don Beyer (VA).
  2. Legislation to restore ACA market and outreach funding back to $100 million and disallow the money from being used to promote products that do not comply with the ACA (H.R.987), introduced by Democratic Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE), Dan Kinder (MI), Lucy McBath (GA) and Kathy Castor (FL).
  3. Legislation to overturn the Trump administration’s expansion of short-term health plans (H.R.1010), introduced by Democratic Reps. Lauren Underwood (IL), Kathy Castor (FL), Mark DeSaulnier (CA) and Gwen Moore (WI).

Find a link to witness testimonies, member statements and the hearing live feed here.

Senate Hearings  

Senate HELP Committee: Managing Pain During the Opioid Crisis
On Feb. 12, the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on the opioid crisis, discussing research and approaches to pain management amid efforts to curb opioid abuse. Find a link to witness testimonies, member statements and the hearing live feed here.

Why is this important: Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) shared during the hearing a report released in 2018 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that says about 50 million Americans have chronic pain and nearly 20 million of those have high-impact chronic pain. This hearing is part of an effort to make dramatic reductions in the supply and use of opioids, while taking care of Americans who are in pain.

Read more on healthcare policy on the McGuireWoods Consulting website.