House Committee on Energy and Commerce: “Reauthorizing Vital Health Programs for American Families”
Tuesday, June 25, 2019 – The Health Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a legislative hearing on health care bills that reauthorize a variety of health programs for Americans:

  • H.R. 776, the “Emergency Medical Services for Children Program Reauthorization Act of 2019” reauthorizes the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program at $22.334 million each year through 2024.
  • H.R. 1058, the “Autism CARES Act of 2019” reauthorizes funding for programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through 2024.
  • H.R. 2035, the “Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2019” reauthorizes the Lifespan Respite Care Program at $20 million in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and increases the funding level by $10 million each year thereafter through FY 2024. It would also add new reporting requirements for program grantees.
  • H.R. 2507, the “Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2019” reauthorizes newborn screening programs for five years. The bill includes reforms to ensure that the activities of the Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children (ACHDNC) are transparent, including requiring the creation of a publicly accessible website that details the uniform screening panel nomination process. The bill also requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to standardize data collection and reporting to track and monitor newborn screening in real time. Additionally, the bill orders a study on the modernization of newborn screening. The bill authorizes appropriations of $60.65 million per year through 2024.

Find witness testimonies and hearing updates as they become available here.

House Ways and Means Committee: “Markup of Health Legislation”
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 – The House Ways & Means Committee held a markup and advanced five Medicare-related bills, including legislation to expand coverage of telehealth services for mental health treatment, eliminate beneficiary cost sharing for chronic care management services and add 1,000 new residency slots under the Graduate Medical Education (GME) program.

  • H.R. 3414, the Opioid Workforce Act: Funds 1,000 new residency positions in the areas of addiction medicine and psychiatry, under the GME program, over the next six years.
  • H.R. 3417, the BETTER Act: Includes various Medicare proposals, and one provision expands Medicare’s coverage of telehealth services for mental health treatment by eliminating restrictions on originating sites so that beneficiaries can receive the services in their homes. The package also extends funding for the National Quality Forum and State Health Insurance Programs before funding expires; provides more outreach and education to people before they become eligible for Medicare; and fixes a technical issue in existing law that, according to committee members, prevents some rural and community hospitals from establishing GME programs.
  • H.R. 3436, the Improving Chronic Care Management Act: Eliminates the coinsurance paid by beneficiaries receiving chronic care management services. That benefit was created in 2015 and provides care coordination to people with two or more chronic conditions.
  • H.R. 3439, the Protecting Patient Access to Information for Effective and Necessary Treatment Act: Extends funding for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund through fiscal 2026. The committee rejected two Republican amendments: one seeking to convert PCORI’s funding mechanism from mandatory spending to discretionary spending, and another seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s tax on health insurers.
  • H.R. 3429, the HEARTS and Rural Relief Act: Allows veterans to retain coverage under TRICARE, the veterans’ health coverage program, without having to pay Medicare premiums. It also adds an ambulatory surgical center representative to the advisory panel on hospital outpatient payment, exempts accessories for certain wheelchairs from the competitive bidding program and codifies a delay in CMS’ direct supervision rule for critical access hospitals for two years.

Find markup updates here.

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP)“Executive Session/Markup of S. 1199, S. 1173, S. 1895”
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 – The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a markup and passed the following to the Senate floor:

  • S. 1199, Poison Center Network Enhancement Act of 2019
  • S. 1173, Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act of 2019
  • S. 1895, Lower Health Care Costs Act

Why this is important:
The first two bills, S. 1199 and S. 1173, passed by voice vote and were reported favorably as amended (unanimous consent to a manager’s amendment). S. 1895 was passed 20-3 and reported favorable as amended to the Senate floor. While the amended final bill chose the benchmarking pricing option as a deterrent to surprise medical billing, the committee passed Sen. Cassidy’s amendment 12-11, requiring insurance companies to post accurate lists of who is in-network, so patients have a better chance of avoiding surprise bills. The committee also passed an amendment from Sens. Baldwin (D-WI) and Braun (R-IN), 16-7, requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose certain information about a drug, such as the cost of its research and development and advertising funds, if the price of a drug over $100 climbs more than 10 percent in one year or 25 percent over three years. The package also includes a measure from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the majority leader, and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) to raise the smoking age in every state to 21 from 18. The decision to add the majority leader’s bill to S. 1895 could help the package reach the Senate floor this summer.

Find markup updates here.

Senate Committee on the Judiciary: “Executive Business Meeting”
Thursday, June 27, 2019 – The Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a markup and passed the following drug-pricing bills:

  • S. 1227, Prescription Pricing for the People Act of 2019: The bipartisan bill requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to study the role of intermediaries in the drug supply chain and then make recommendations to Congress on fixing the system.
  • S. 440, the Preserving Access to Cost Effective Drugs (PACED) Act: Ranking Member Feinstein (D-CA) argued that the bill was unnecessary due to court precedent and was too far-reaching. The bill prohibits patent holders from using tribal or foreign government sovereign immunity as a defense in proceedings before the U.S. Patent Office, the courts and the International Trade Commission. The bill reinforces last year’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which struck down tribal sovereign immunity in patent proceedings. The court expanded on that ruling last week when it determined states also do not have sovereign immunity from patent proceedings. The bill applies to all patents, not just those for pharmaceuticals.
  • S. 1224, Stop Significant and Time-Wasting Abuse Limiting Legitimate Innovation of New Generics, Stop STALLING Act: The bipartisan bill gives the FTC the authority to deter the use of sham citizen petitions to delay generic or biosimilar competition.
  • S. 1416, Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act of 2019: The amended version of the patent bill, by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), is meant to stop the anticompetitive use of patents by codifying definitions of “product hopping” and “patent thicketing” within the FTC Act and empowering the FTC to bring antitrust suits against companies that abuse the patent system.

Find markup updates here.

Read more on healthcare policy on the McGuireWoods Consulting website.