This week in Washington: CMS develops additional code for coronavirus lab tests, announces actions to address spread of coronavirus; House passes bill to ban e-cigarette flavors; Grassley says updated Senate Finance drug pricing bill saves $80 billion.


House Passes Bill to Ban E-Cigarette Flavors, Expand Tobacco User Fees
On Feb. 28, the House passed H.R. 2339, the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act, 213 to 195. The legislation was sponsored by the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ). The bill would ban all products categorized as e-cigarette flavors, allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to collect user fees from all classes of tobacco products and increase the total amount of user fees collected by $100 million.


Grassley Says Updated Senate Finance Drug Pricing Bill Saves $80 Billion
On March 5, Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that the updated version of the committee’s drug pricing bill, S. 2543, the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019, would save $80 billion over 10 years, reduce patient out-of-pocket spending in Part D by about $50 billion and reduce premiums by about $1 billion. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the previous version of the bill would save $105 billion, and CBO lowered that score to account for the cost of a new provision to lower beneficiary coinsurance by 5 percent. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still has not scheduled floor time for consideration of this bill.

House and Senate Pass Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Package to Address Coronavirus – President Signs Legislation
On March 6, President Trump signed the $8.3 billion emergency funding package Congress passed in the same week, sending funds to federal agencies and states working to combat a rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. The bill, H.R. 6074, provides a total of $7.7 billion in new discretionary spending and authorizes an additional $490 million in mandatory spending through a Medicare change. More than $400 million will be disbursed to states within the first 30 days of the bill’s enactment, with each state receiving no less than $4 million.

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.