House Education and Labor Committee: “Markup: H.R. 5800, Ban Surprise Billing Act”
Tuesday, February 11, 2020: The House Education and Labor Committee held a markup for:

Find more details on the hearing here.

Why this is important: The committee approved H.R. 5800, 32-13, to end surprise medical billing. The plan uses a federal benchmark payment to settle differences while allowing providers and payers to appeal to an independent arbiter in disputes over bills above $750. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the bill would save the federal government about $24 billion over a decade.

House Ways and Means Committee: “Markup of Health Legislation”
Wednesday, February 12, 2020: The House Ways and Means Committee held a markup for the follow three bills:

  • H.R. 5821, the “HOSPICE” Act
  • H.R. 5825, The “Transparency in Health Care Investments Act of 2020”
  • H.R. 5826, the “Consumer Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills Act”

Find more details on the markup here.

Why this is important: The bill, H.R. 5826, passed by voice vote and addresses surprise medical billing by requiring negotiations between health plans and providers who could submit disputes to an independent mediator if there is an impasse. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the bill would save the federal government $17.77 billion over a decade. The committee also passed H.R. 5821 by voice vote.

House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health: “Protecting Women’s Access to Reproductive Health Care”
Wednesday, February 12, 2020:The Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a legislative hearing to discuss H.R. 2975, the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2019Find more details on the hearing here.

Senate Committee on Aging: “There’s No Place Like Home: Home Health Care in Rural America”
Wednesday, February 12, 2020: The Senate Committee on Aging held a hearing on rural health care concerns, featuring a panel of witnesses to discuss home care and hospice care. Find more details on the hearing here.


HHS Secretary Azar Testifies to Senate Finance on President Trump’s 2021 Budget
On Feb. 13, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Alex Azar, testified to the Senate Finance Committee during a hearing on President Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget proposal. Senate Finance Democrats asked Azar to describe the administration’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement plan, but Azar said the high-profile litigation over the constitutionality of the health law is a long way from being finished and at this point, an ACA replacement is a hypothetical situation.

Bipartisan Senate Bill Introduced to Close Orphan Drug Act Cost Recovery “Loophole”
On Feb. 11, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) members Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) along with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act, a companion to the House’s bipartisan bill of the same name. The bill aims to close an Orphan Drug Act loophole that is believed to allow drug manufacturers to obtain orphan drug designation, and the corresponding seven years of exclusivity, if they claim they are unable to recover development costs on the drug.

Read more on healthcare policy on McGuireWoods Consulting’s website.